Let’s talk about your skin. Medically known as melanocytic nevi, moles are small dark spots on your skin that appear predominately during the first 20 years of life. Hormones, sun exposure and genetics are all factors in the number, location and type of moles we each get.
Moles on their own aren’t necessarily dangerous; however, UV exposure can trigger malignant transformations, causing moles to become cancerous. The good news is that if caught early, melanoma is nearly 100% treatable. The best way to catch your moles before it’s too late is to map them.
Every year on your birthday, I recommend getting in your birthday suit and taking full body pictures. Compare them year after year, carefully checking for the ABCDE’s of melanoma.
A—Asymmetry: the spot isn’t symmetrical and may have an odd shape
B—Border: look for a border that isn’t sharp or defined
C—Color: the color is not uniform and may have different shades of red, brown or black
D—Diameter: the spot is the size of a pencil eraser or larger
E—Evolution: the spot is changing in size and/or shape
This may seem like a lot of work, but at the end of the day you are responsible for your health and well-being. Just like with breast cancer, most melanoma cases are self-diagnosed and not found in your annual exam. If you want a derm’s attention on your moles, make an appointment specifically for a mole evaluation. There’s not much money in mole checks … so while a great derm will make time for it, others will opt for more lucrative procedures like botox. And if you don’t feel your derm is taking your moles seriously, find a new one. There are countless great dermatologists out there who care about the health of their patients. ~Dr. Kathy Fields