Changes in a Mole, Colored Skin Spot, or Other Skin Growth
Most moles will normally change over time. They may get
bigger, grow a hair, become more raised, get lighter in color, or fade away.
Many people develop new moles until about age 40. But some changes in moles or skin growths are
If you are in a high-risk group for skin cancer or have ever been treated for some form of the disease, you should familiarize yourself with how skin cancers look. Examine your skin from head to toe every few months, using a full-length mirror and hand mirror to check your mouth, nose, scalp, palms, soles, backs of ears, genital area, and between the buttocks. Cover every inch of skin and pay special attention to moles and sites of previous skin cancer. If you find a suspicious growth, have it examined...
Border irregularity. The edges are ragged, notched,
Color. The color is not uniform. Shades of tan,
brown, and black are present. Dashes of red, white, and blue make the mole look
Diameter. The mole is larger than
6 mm (0.2 in.) across (about
the size of a pencil eraser). Any growth of a mole should be of concern.
Evolution. There is a change in the size, shape,
symptoms (such as itching or tenderness), surface (especially bleeding), or
Early detection of skin cancer includes regular
skin self-exams in which you look at your skin and note any changes in skin
growths. A skin self-exam may help identify suspicious skin growths and lead to
early treatment. Perform a skin self-exam once a month.
Check your skin, scalp, and skin growths for any
changes in color, shape, size, or appearance.
Check to see if any
area of your skin or scalp has not healed after an injury.
notice a suspicious skin growth, have your doctor look at it. Most skin growths
can be removed, which will keep them from growing and damaging the surrounding
skin or other deeper tissues or spreading to other areas of the body.
Moles and colored spots on skin can turn into skin cancer. Finding and
treating skin cancer early can help prevent problems.
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
April 27, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
April 27, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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