Do you check your moles? Probably not but today something hit home and I'd like to share why everyone should check their moles (no scare tactics I promise, nothing I hate more)...
I'm beyond mole-y (is that even a word?), despite not being a huge sun worshipper or what most would deem fair skinned I am covered in moles. I blame my Celtic gene pool as the majority of my family is the same. For as long as I can recall I have had to visit a dermatologist twice a year and have my moles mapped which I do hasten to add is not the norm here in the UK. I have a moderate sized mole on my right cheek (around the size of Cindy Crawford's but mine is more flat) that I developed when I was 6 weeks old, due to where it is located and family history (a few members have had moles removed) I am somewhat monitored for changes as is my sister.
Anyway before I divulge my medical history I wanted to share what I have learned and hopeful it will help others. As you may know a changing mole can be a sign of skin cancer but it can also just be to age or another factor so don't panic. If like myself you are from a Celtic background (Scottish, English, Welsh or Irish) or live in Australia/New Zealand we are that at risk groups - the latter being due to sun worshipping opposed to pale skin. As I mentioned I hate scare tactics mainly because I am over dramatic and think a common cold is a death sentence but you really should check your moles as the sooner any change is noted the quicker and easier it can be resolved.
So what changes should you be looking for within moles? A change in colour, shape or size, does the mole bleed or has it become crusty? If so then get a doctor to check it out, same for swelling and red, inflamed and/or itchy moles (you can see examples via the NHS - link). I have also been told contrary to what the internet may tell you that new moles are not something that has to be a worry as most moles appear within your teenage years right through to your twenties. Something else the internet medical forums (why do I do this to myself) seems to be up in arms about is moles on the soles of the feet or palm of the hands being dangerous and an instant sign of skin cancer. Straight from an esteemed dermatologists mouth I was told frankly that moles can develop anywhere and the feet/hands aren't any more or less dangerous than anywhere else but as they are high areas of friction you should keep a close eye on them.
What if you do have to get a mole removed? Honestly there is nothing to it, they will numb the area and remove the pesky mole. I liken it a little to have a verruca removed - it really is that quick and easy with no need in most cases for recovery time and very minimal scarring. Typically it is all over and done with in 10 minutes and can sometimes be carried out in the doctors office.
You've heard it a hundred times before but the best thing to do is wear a good sunscreen (UVA/UVB protection) when in the sun and if like me you have a mole/s on your face I do recommend using a environmental filter for daily use such as Estee Lauder Daywear UV Base (SPF50) which is light and non-greasy to protect the skin. I use the Mole Checker App on my phone to keep track of my moles which is free to download and fairly easy to use - tedious if you have over 100 moles though ha!
As this post has become a long ramble basically all I want to say is keep an eye on your moles, I mean if you check your breasts monthly why not your moles too (do it at the same time, job done?) and if a certain mole troubles you go to the doctor it's as easy as that.
- I am by no means a Doctor or anyway medically trained (pah my Mammy wishes) I'm merely sharing what I have learned along the way to help put others minds at ease and of course encourage others to keep an eye on their moles.