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When should you worry about those moles?

Summer is here, which means that we are all showing a bit more skin. And while sun exposure can, in moderation, be a good thing (hello, vitamin D!), it’s important to be careful and attentive when it comes to moles. This means not just keeping them protected from UV rays but monitoring any changes and, if necessary, consulting with a dermatologist. Here’s what to look out for, how to stay safe and when to seek professional help.

 

Spot the difference

Sunlight is important, but too much of it can wreak havoc on your skin. Some concerns include premature aging and hyperpigmentation, but developing skin cancer is one that we should be looking out for. While many moles are completely harmless, some of them can become malignant when exposed to frequent UV rays. In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, over 9 500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. This is why it’s important to keep an eye on your beauty spots and take note of any changes. Here are the four to look out for:

  1. Asymmetry: This is when one-half of the moles don’t match the other.
  2. Border irregularity: This is when the mole has uneven, irregular edges.
  3. Color: This is when there are different colors and shades on a mole.
  4. Diameter: When the mole is bigger than 1/4 inch or is growing larger.

 

skin cancer abcd
Courtesy of the National Cancer Institute

 

Get checked

One way to keep on top of your moles is to go for regular mole-mapping sessions. This is where a dermatologist scans your body and identifies any potentially-problematic moles or even full-blown melanoma which, if caught early, can be removed. It’s advisable to go for a skin check every six months to track any significant or concerning changes.

 

Stay protected

The best way to ensure that your moles remain benign is to protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation. This means avoiding tanning beds, long stretches of sun exposure, and sunburns. It is also crucial that you apply an SPF of at least 30 daily on exposed areas and to reapply if you are spending time outdoors. Better safe than sorry!

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