Moles--they're those flat, oval to circular spots on your skin. Typically brown, or sometimes black in color, most moles live out their lifespan harmlessly. Some moles, however, change, and change can indicate skin cancer. To be sure your skin--and your overall health--stays strong, your dermatologist in Port Charlotte, Dr. Hernandez, recommends you check your moles once a month at home. For those with a personal or family history of skin cancer, he wants to see you once a year for a check-up at Manuel H Hernandez MD.
Why we get moles
Many moles appear at birth (the medical term is congenital nevi), but some appear later, particularly during the teen years and when women are pregnant. Existing moles darken at these times, too. Characteristically, moles are scattered all over the body, but we especially notice those on the face, arms. Skin doctors link mole formation to sun exposure. So whatever parts of the body are most public seem to have the most moles.
When moles change
Usually, long-standing moles do not change much in size, color and shape. However, if you have a mole that begins to hurt, itch or bleed, contact the Manuel H Hernandez MD. These alterations could indicate skin cancer, a prevalent, and potentially deadly, malady affecting one in five Americans. Know your skin well, and check the appearance of moles regularly--again, once a month at home and yearly with your dermatologist in Port Charlotte, FL
Checking your moles
How can you check your moles and other skin irregularities? Look at your skin after you take a shower. Using a mirror, and if possible, getting your spouse to help, inspect all over your body for changes in the color and texture of your skin. Check between your toes and at the back of your knees and neck (with a mirror if necessary).
The American Academy of Dermatology uses this system for evaluating moles. It's as easy as remembering the first five letters of the alphabet: ABCDE. Note any changes and report them to Dr. Hernandez.
- A means asymmetry. If you were to draw a line down the center of your mole, each side should be equal.
- B stands for border. It should remain smooth, not notched or ragged.
- C means color. Moles are brown or black. If this changes, or if other colors such as red or white appear, it's a danger sign.
- D is diameter. No mole should be larger than 6 mm or the size of a pencil eraser.
- E means evolving. When a mole changes in color, texture, size or shape, call your dermatologist in Port Charlotte.
Be on guard
Looking at your skin pays big health dividends. If you are concerned about a mole or want a skin check, phone Manuel H Hernandez MD for expert care from this board-certified dermatologist and his team. We serve patients from Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda and Arcadia, FL.