Some moles are small burrowing mammals with long muzzles and limited eyesight. However, in this advicesisters.com story, we’re focusing on moles that are part of you. Human moles are skin growths or skin tags. Most of them are not cause for concern. However, a skin cancer the size of a dime can be fatal, You should do a mole check with your doctor annually. IN-between, it’s a good idea to be on “mole patrol.” Here are some DIY mole check tips to use all year round. They could help save your life.
Be Part Of the Mole Patrol:
In order to make your Mole Patrol Body Check a truly useful self-exam, you will need to be able to compare the results of each self-exam to the one you performed before. If you are seeing a dermatologist yearly, do this self-screen in between visits, because things do change, sometimes faster than we anticipate.
Your first exam will be your “Baseline” against which you can measure any changes. To start, make a diagram of your body. You don’t need artistic skill to do this. Simply download a “drawing of a human body” from Google. Use the diagram (front and back of the body) to note, with a pen, any marks that you find. This includes birthmarks, freckles, moles, growths, etc. Note their size with words like, “the size of a small pea,” “the size of a pencil eraser,” etc. Note the date of 1st Exam.
Look For These Changes:
During the examination, you will be looking for the following types of changes:
Skin growths that seem to be increasing in size or that are translucent, tan, black, pearly or multicolored.
Any mole, birthmark, freckle or beauty mark that changes in size, thickness, texture, or, has uneven or ragged edges, is bigger than 6mm across (the size of a regular pea), or that appeared after you turned 21.
A mole the size of a pencil eraser in diameter warrants checking out with a dermatologist. But, skin cancer is sneaky and there is no One-size-fits-all description, so be on the lookout for anything that appears in a spot where nothing existed before. Even look at your nails without nail polish. Skin cancer can form under your nails.
Spots that are sore or that itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode, bleed or won’t heal for more than three weeks.
Patrol Your Moles Regularly:
By doing this self-exam regularly, you are taking an important step in helping to ensure the health of your skin and your life. It’s important to “know” your skin from your scalp to your toes, because skin cancer may occur on your scalp and in between your toes. The more you know, the faster you can act if something doesn’t look right.
An easy way to remember to do this is to link it to applying your body lotion after a shower or bath. Doing this will help you develop an enhanced awareness of your skin. It could save your life.
Tools that may help you perform this exam include:
A blow dryer and hand mirror to examine your scalp, section by section
A hand mirror with a magnifying side to check your nose, lips, mouth, and front and back of ears
A full length mirror to check your back, buttocks and the back of your legs
As you apply your moisturizing lotion examine your hands and arms. Start with the tips of your fingers and work up towards your shoulders. Be sure to check under your fingernails and between your fingers. Also examine the front of your neck, chest and torso. Lift your breasts to view undersides.
Sit down to inspect your toes, under your toenails, between toes, and tops and bottoms of your feet. Move up the ankles, shins, thighs, and sides of both legs. Last, but not least, examine your genital area using the hand mirror.
Get Checked By A Doctor:
Your doctor is still an essential partner in the mole patrol. A self-exam does not take the place of a yearly body check by a dermatologist, but it may help you catch problems faster.
Remember that this does not take the place of a professional body check. Your dermatologist has special lights and scopes to get a really good look at your skin.
The wise man who said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” may not have been talking about skin cancer, but the wisdom makes a lot of your sense for this important life-saving task.
Editor’s Note: Suzanne Lane is the founder and president of The Lane Communications Group and the author of a touching book about her dog Sammy. Read the advicesisters.com’s review of her book A Little Sammy Music. Get a copy of “A Little Sammy Music” on amazon.com