Being Alert and taking Action – When was the last time you checked out your moles?

What is a mole?

For this article I am not writing about the cute furry moles we hear about digging up peoples lawns and scurrying underground.  Instead we are talking about moles that for the majority of the population we find on our skin. Moles are normal but for a few there are changes that occur that with swift action can stop them leading to more serious problems.  Read this article and take action. Encourage family and friends to join you too.  If you come in for treatment at Fine Fettle and want us to check your back just ask. We will of course tell you anyway if we think there is anything you need to get checked out. Early action is the key where you skin is concerned.

What exactly is a mole?

Moles occur when cells in the skin grow in a cluster instead of being spread throughout the skin. These cells are called melanocytes, and they make the pigment that gives skin its natural colour.  For most of us we have a few moles that we have had since early childhood and that is normal.

Moles can range in colour. They are generally medium to dark brown but can also be skin-coloured or black.

The majority of moles are flat, relatively even in colour and regular in shape. Some moles are raised and these are usually soft to touch and lighter in colour.

 

Why should you check your moles and skin?

For most of us the site of moles on our skin should not be alarming but you should be alert to your moles.  Know where they are and how they look as new moles and changes to existing moles could indicate the need for an expert opinion.

For the majority of us we have moles that are perfectly normal on our skin but when should you get referred for expert opinion and what exactly should you be looking for.  I know that when I see patients many of them are aware of the familiar types of cancer such as breast cancer and prostate cancer but are we as aware of another common cancer skin cancer? For most skin cancer is curable but this increases the earlier it is spotted.   This blog is not to scare or frighten but rather encourage you to do regular checks as in most cases an indications of changes happening can be resolved quickly and easily. Don’t wait, get checking today!

How to check your skin

At least every 3 months have a thorough check of your skin. Ideally, however, do this at least every month.  For areas like your back and back of legs, that are almost impossible to check yourself ask a partner or trusted friend to check for you.  Perhaps you could encourage them to let you check their back too. Involving family in health checks is always a great idea.

What should you look for?

You are looking for any changes to moles and skin blemishes. Here are some key points to look for but remember if you think something looks different and you are unsure just go and get it checked.

Moles

Look for any changes in existing moles, their colour, height, size or shape.  If your mole starts to bleed, ooze, itch or become tender or painful get an appointment at your GP for a check-up. Know your moles and if it helps take photographs to remind you of what they look like.  If you have any new moles appear make a quick appointment at the local GP for a quick check up.  This will only take you minutes.

A spot or sore

Spots and sores are common. But if you have one that doesn’t heal within 4 weeks, get it checked.

Also, look out for a spot or sore that hurts, is itchy, crusty, scabs over or bleeds for more than 4 weeks.

Ulcer

Look out for an area of skin that’s broken down (an ulcer) and doesn’t heal within 4 weeks, and you can’t think of a reason for this change.

A lump

This might be small, slow growing, shiny and pink or red.

Red patches on your skin

These red patches could also be itchy. This could be due to other non-cancerous skin conditions. But get it checked to make sure.

Remember most cases are insignificant but if you do have some serious changes happening early diagnosis is the key and the prognosis for early detection of skin cancer in most cases is very good. Your GP or nurse will be very happy to check out any areas of your skin for you.  Don’t wait book that appointment and just get it looked at.