Moles And Skin Cancer: Self-Examination Mistakes To Avoid

Posted on: 11 May 2016

Studies suggest that the average person with white skin has around 30 moles on their skin, but some people have hundreds of these markings. A mole is not normally harmful, and, in fact, scientists now believe that people with a lot of moles may actually age better than other people, but these skin markings can also increase the risk of skin cancer. Early detection of an anomaly can help people avoid dangerous conditions like skin cancer, but some people fail to take the right steps to self-examine their moles. Learn more here.

Leaving self-examination too late 

Doctors suggest that you should start to examine your moles for signs of any unusual activity from around the age of 25. At this age, your skin normally develops fully, so you shouldn't then see new mole growth. From this age, self-examination is a vital way to spot any early signs of changes that could point to skin cancer.

Only examining a few parts of the body

You can find moles on any part of your body, but some people mistakenly believe that they only need to examine areas that get sun exposure. In fact, melanoma (a form of skin cancer) can develop in places that seldom see the sun, and some people even get the disease in unusual places, such as underneath toenails. A robust self-examination technique will look at every part of the body, top to bottom, front to back.

Choosing a poor examination environment

You can't properly self-examine in the wrong conditions. For example, you need plenty of light to see what you are doing, so a dark room won't work. Similarly, you'll need a full-length mirror or an assistant to help you see every part of your body, and you'll even need a measuring tape to help you keep track of any moles that change in size. Effective self-examination needs time and preparation, so make sure you do the job properly.

Failing to repeat the task

One self-examination is just the start of the process. An effective self-examination regime means you need to check your body regularly, or you cannot easily spot changes early enough. In fact, Cancer Council of Australia recommends that you repeat the task every three months.

Not keeping written records

You cannot easily track changes in your moles if you don't keep a written record. How can you confidently say whether a mole is new or larger if you have nothing to refer to from the last self-examination? The American Society for Dermatological Surgery publishes a self-examination kit online, which includes a printable diagram of the body. You can use this document to keep a written record of your findings each month, and, more crucially, this will allow you to spot changes.

Self-examination can help people spot the early signs of a problematic mole, but it's important to do the job properly. Talk to a mole clinic or dermatologist for more information and advice.