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When looking at any mole or lesion on your body, you should see whether they are symmetrical have a uniform colour and border and do not change dramatically over months.
Most marks on our skin usually are uniform and symmetrical. However, some people do have asymmetrical moles but they have several of the same type of moles that are asymmetrical in the same way.
If you have a solitary mole or lesion on your skin that stands out from the crowd, check if it is:
To summarise, when it comes to a mole that you are not sure about, if in doubt check it out.
How often should I check my moles?
We recommend checking moles 2 to 3 times a year and comparing to a set of baseline photographs. For those of you who are tech savvy, you do not necessarily need a particular phone application to do this you can do this with good photography on your mobile phone and store the images in an encrypted folder. If you’d like some more help in archiving your images there are a range of apps that are both free and paid for that can help you do this.
The free ones are MoleChecker available on the NHS website and MySkinSelfie which is run by Newcastle University is also free. The paid for apps include compariskin / miiskin / skinvision - these have much nicer features and sometimes access to a dermatologist which you have to pay extra for within the app.
Protecting your skin
Research has shown that using an SPF of 30 sunscreen usually only gives you around an SPF of 10 to 15 because no one ever usually applies it to the thickness required. Therefore, I always recommend an SPF of 50 and assume that you will only get an SPF of 20.
You should always have a high SPF with a 5 star UVA rating, 5 star UVA rating is also represented by having UVA within a circle or the word broad spectrum. This means that the UVA is a high proportion of the UV-B within the sunscreen and hence gives you better protection against both UVB and UVA sunrays. The key to sunscreen is not the type of sunscreen that you have, but rather the way you use it. Put it on frequently in small amounts and often i.e. hourly when in direct sunlight, half hourly when swimming or sweating would mean that you constantly getting the right amount of protection.
When should I see my GP about a mole or lesion?
If you are worried about a mole that has become symptomatic such as itching, bleeding or painful, then you must see your GP. Equally, if you feel that a mole is changing according to the ABCD criteria, it’s important to see your GP.
If you are over the age of 20 and have a new mole or new lesion that does not go away within a month, you should get this checked. Remember that not everything that is dark or pigmented on your body is skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancer is very important and is often simply a pinkish or scaly lesion that is new and often without any symptoms such as itching or bleeding.
In general GPs are excellent at diagnosing skin cancer and would usually refer you on to a dermatologist for confirmation or further management. However, if you find difficulty in seeing a GP face-to-face given current covid limitations, most dermatologists both NHS and private have large face-to-face consultation clinics.
Remember it is your skin and your body you are the best person to know what is on your body and how it is changing.
But if you do not look you will not know. If you do not record, you may not remember.
Close monitoring of your skin is just as important as a regular breast exam for females and a regular scrotal exam for males.
If you’re worried about anything on your skin, book in to see Dr Shah today by calling 01442 331 900.