Everyone has moles on their skin, in fact, the average person will have between 10 and 40 moles across their body. Moles can appear on any area of your body and will usually appear before the age of 20. So when should you get a mole checked by a doctor or dermatologist? Here, we give you the answers.
The colour and size of your moles
The pattern of your moles is generally caused by a combination of your genetics and sun exposure, with the latter being the main cause behind an excessive amount of moles and the darkening of existing moles. New moles will usually appear in your teens and your existing moles will get darker or larger - this can also happen during pregnancy. The colour of healthy moles will vary but they should generally be a medium to dark brown.
The shape of your moles
Most moles are flat and regular in shape, although raised moles are not uncommon. Moles which are raised from the skin tend to be softer to touch and a lighter colour than other moles.
Self-checking your moles
It's important to check your moles every three months, but if you do notice any changes to existing moles, newly developed moles or if you have a family history of skin cancer, you should check yourself more regularly - usually monthly.
When should you get a mole checked by a doctor?
The most precise answer to 'when should you get a mole checked by a doctor' is simply - as soon as you notice a change in your skin or moles. It's crucial you get any suspicious areas of skin or suspicious moles checked as they could be an early sign or a life-threatening form of skin cancer known as malignant melanoma. Because no two moles are the same it can be hard to determine which moles are normal and which aren't, that's why it's so important you check your own moles regularly. Any changes to your existing moles or the development of new moles after the age of 20 should be checked as soon as possible.
You an use the following checklist to help you answer the question ‘when should you get a mole checked?’:
A - asymmetry: Moles which look different on one side to the other.
B - border: A mole with an irregular border that looks scalloped, smudged or poorly defined.
C - color: Moles that are multiple shades of brown, black, white or red.
D - diameter: A mole that has a diameter which is larger than the eraser on the end of a standard pencil.
E - evolving: A mole that changes in size, shape, or color.
If you have any moles that are larger than others, have smudged or irregular edges or are uneven in colour, you should see a doctor and get them checked. Any moles that are painful or bleed should also be checked by a doctor.
If you have any concerns over your moles, book an appointment with our dermatology department.