Moles: When to Get Checked Out

Moles, also called beauty marks, are extremely common! Most of the time they are just harmless freckles, but there can be a point when you need to get them checked out by a doctor. Moles are typically brown or black round spots on the face or body –  they can appear virtually anywhere. They are simply the mark caused by a cluster of cells with pigment. Moles can form due to genetic factors, the sun, or even hormone changes. They can be smooth and flat or raised and textured, and it’s possible for hair to grow through them. 

Certain changes in your moles can signal a skin cancer (like melanoma) which must be treated, so it’s always a good idea to assess the marks on your body and take note of anything that looks new or different. Moles become concerning when they change, which is why a “body check” is recommended, where you look at your body in the mirror every once in a while so you know what’s new and what’s old. If you notice that a mole is itchy or bleeding, make sure to talk to a dermatologist (skin doctor). Same goes if the mole changes color or is two different colors, has wavy or uneven borders, or gets abnormally large, uneven, or raised. If you notice any of these symptoms, don’t be afraid to go see your doctor! They can give their professional opinion and will easily remove a mole if needed. 

It’s essential to protect your skin from skin cancer and one easy way is to use sun protection. Some moles are genetic and will appear no matter what, but others like freckles appear more with sun exposure. The sun can also cause wrinkles. Make sure to use sunscreen on your face daily and on your body when you’ll be in direct sunlight for longer periods of time (like at the beach). SPF between 35-50 is best and it’s also a great idea to add a hat or sunglasses! Another important recommendation is to avoid tanning beds, since they use harmful UV radiation that can increase your risk of skin cancer.

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