Mole: Beauty Mark or Danger Zone?

moleA mole is a small, dark-colored animal that lives and burrows under the ground. So it’s no surprise that small, dark growths on your skin are also called moles. Most of them develop in the first years of your life, although they often change and evolve as you get older. Perhaps the most famous mole is Marilyn Monroe’s beauty mark right above her lip. Many celebrities have them in this day and age, as well, including Cindy Crawford, Angelina Jolie, and Blake Lively. However, despite their association with the stunningly beautiful, moles can also be dangerous and something much less beautiful.

How Do I Know If It’s a Beauty Mark or If It’s Cancerous?
Different types of moles are more likely to become cancerous. If the mole is larger than a pencil eraser, if it has an irregular shape, or if the color is uneven. Other warning signs are if the mole appeared after the age of 30 or looks different than other moles on your body or changes how it looks.

ABCDEs: Using the Alphabet
You can very easily use the alphabet to determine whether or not you should get a mole checked out. If your mole fits even one of the following characteristics, you should get it checked out by a doctor or dermatologist.

  • Asymmetry
  • Border that is uneven or irregular
  • Color that is inconsistent in shading or that is blue, white, or red
  • Diameter larger than a pencil eraser
  • Evolution (meaning, has it changed in any way, including size, shape, or color)

Get Scanned for Skin Cancer
Even if you haven’t noticed any new moles or the ABCDEs listed above, you should check your moles out about once a month, especially if a close relative has a health history of melanoma. Although most of your moles should be non-cancerous, you want to make sure that you stay on top of things and catch them as they change. You should look even if you don’t notice any differences, as many of your moles may be in placed that are hard to see.