We’ve talked quite a bit about sunscreen and skin protection from the sun and it’s just one of those things that we will continue to talk about forever.  Sun damage to your skin has a whole host of problems associated with it, including premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.  Because the skin is an uneven landscape of pumps and colors, we wanted to explore the differences between what a mole and a skin melanoma looks like, so that you are more empowered to spot the difference.

That being said:  If you think you might have found a melanoma, don’t wait until it matches all the information mentioned in this blog…GO TO THE DOCTOR.  Skin cancer is nothing to take lightly and should be treated as soon as possible by a doctor.  That’s our advice and we’re sticking to it.

Now, on to the subject at hand….

Moles are usually round or oval and can be in a variety of sizes.  Some are small, some are big, some are flat, some are bulbous.  A mole can range in color from almost black to light pinkish or tan.  You can get moles on any part of the skin.  Hairs might sprout from it or grow around it.  Moles can stay with you from birth or even pop up later in life.  In fact, you can grow new moles up until you’re 40.  That’s a lot of time for moles to sprout!

You might also have what’s called a “dysplastic nevus.”  This is a mole-like mark found on your skin usually, but not constrained to areas where your skin comes in contact with the sun’s rays.  It doesn’t have perfectly round edge  and it might have a raised part in the middle or have a rough texture.  These also come in a variety of colors from pink to dark brown.

The good news is that not all moles  or dysplastic nevi turn into cancer.  However, it’s good to know where they are so you can keep an eye on them in case any changes occur, especially if you have a lot of them, as that increases your risk.

The National Cancer Institute lists these guidelines for making sure your moles or dysplastic nevi aren’t changing into something more dangerous:

“The color changes

The mole gets unevenly smaller or bigger (unlike normal moles in children, which get evenly bigger)

The mole changes in shape, texture, or height

The skin on the surface becomes dry or scaly

The mole becomes hard or feels lumpy

It starts to itch

It bleeds or oozes”

In addition to these guidelines, they suggest that that if you have a dysplastic nevi, you should make sure to check on it for changes at least once a month.  For more information about moles and melanomas visit, http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/moles

Needless to say, when in doubt, go see a doctor.

Do you have any experiences with moles or dysplastic nevi?

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