Eating well, exercising, and visiting your doctor for regular checkups are essential tasks for a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, conditions that affect your physical and emotional health may still develop. Considering skin cancer will affect one in five Americans in the course of a lifetime, understanding the warning signs of this condition is smart.
Unusual growths, moles, bumps, and sores are unappealing issues, but they can also be warning signs that you have melanoma or another type of skin cancer. While most people have one or more moles on their body, learning the differences between a healthy mole and a cancerous mole is imperative. Use this guide to inspect your skin and determine if a mole is cancerous.
Checking Your Moles
Check your moles every few months for changes in size, shape, texture, and quantity. If you have suffered with skin cancer in the past or have family members with the condition, inspect your moles more frequently.
To get started, remove all of your clothes and stand in front of a full-length mirror. Be sure to have your smartphone camera and a smaller handheld mirror ready.
Start on the bottom of your feet, checking each inch of your skin for moles. Take pictures with your smartphone to document the size, shape, and color of each mole. Work your way up the entire body.
Hold your handheld mirror up to reflect hard-to-see areas into the full-length mirror. Be sure to check in between your toes and fingers. Also, make sure to check behind your knees and your ears. Lastly, move the hair around on your head to inspect your scalp for moles.
If you notice the dangerous signs below, your moles may be cancerous.
Moles are usually pink, tan, and brown in color, but they may appear darker if you have darker hair and skin.
If you notice the mole's colors changing, talk to your doctor immediately. Moles that are grey or have darker grey and black spots may be a sign of skin cancer.
While inspecting your moles, pay attention to the borders surrounding each one of these skin bumps. A healthy mole will have a defined border, which is free from any irregularities.
If the mole's border appears blurred, ragged, or scalloped, it may be a sign of melanoma or another type of skin cancer. If the mole's color seems to blend into the border, you should also contact your doctor for skin-cancer testing.
Larger Size or Change in Size
Measuring your moles periodically may not seem like a fun task, but it is a smart way to inspect your skin for possible skin cancer.
A healthy mole should not be any larger than 6 millimeters, which equals to about ¼-inch across in size. You most likely do not carry a ruler or tape measure around with you, but you can envision the size of a pencil eraser.
If your mole is larger than 6 millimeters, or the size of a standard pencil eraser, contact your doctor immediately for a further evaluation.
For most people, a mole that is healthy will be round and symmetrical. If you have one or more moles where one half is larger than the other half, it may be a sign of skin cancer.
When inspecting your mole, visualize yourself folding it in half. If one half does not evenly match with the other, consult your doctor.
Moles may be bumpy imperfections on the skin, but they should feel soft and smooth. If your mole is rough, dry, and scaly to the touch, it is not a healthy mole.
A rough, dry, and scaly texture may eventually begin to itch and scab. Over time, this overly rough texture may start to bleed.
An itchy, dry, and bleeding mole should be tested by your doctor immediately.
Moles and other imperfections on the skin should never cause discomfort or pain.
Pain is not common during the early stage of skin cancer, so if you have one or more moles that are painful and tender to the touch, consult your doctor immediately.
Moles may be common, but they are also great factors in catching skin cancer early. Using this guide, you will understand how to inspect your skin and which signs to look for in determining if a mole is cancerous. For more tips, you may want to contact a local skin cancer surgery clinic or specialist.