What are Moles?

Moles are a very common growth that appear as brown spots on the skin. Moles are caused by a cluster of pigmented cells and can appear in children and adults. They can appear anywhere on the body and may disappear over time or change in their appearance. While moles are almost always harmless, some may become cancerous.

How to Check Moles

While uncommon, moles can become cancerous over time and knowing how to check your moles may help early detect skin cancer. The ABCDE’s of skin cancer is as follows:

A – asymmetrical shape | one half is not like the other half

B – border | irregular in shape, notched or scalloped on the edges

C – color | changes in color or uneven color patterns

D – diameter | new growth larger than 1/4″

E – evolving | change in size, shape, color or height or moles that develop a new symptom, such as itching or bleeding

Prevention

While there is no way to fully prevent moles from growing, there are ways to protect your skin to reduce the risk of a mole becoming cancerous.

  • Avoid peak sunlight times – typically between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Always wear sunscreen – apply at least 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every 2 hours
  • Cover up – including sunglasses, hats, long sleeves or protective clothing
  • Avoid tanning beds

Contact a medical professional if you have suspicious moles immediately.