How often should you check your moles?

I stress to all my patients how absolutely vital regular mole checks are. Once per month, you should self-examine your entire body. Here are some tips on how to do it and what to look out for.

Step 1: When coming out of the shower, stand in front of a large mirror and carry out an upper body examination. Start with checking your face, neck, chest and tummy all the way down to your hips.
Step 2: Examine your arms and elbows, including underarms and both sides of your hands.
Step 3: Check your lower body, examining the front and back of your legs and feet. Don’t forget to look between your toes.
Step 4: Ask a friend or family member to check your back, scalp, ears and other areas you can’t easily see yourself.

Look out for moles or skin patches which are growing, are bleeding, oozing or crusting, appear inflamed, red around the edges, are itchy, or are changing in any way. All three main types of skin cancer can look different. Some skin cancers might look pigmented like moles, while others may appear red like a patch of eczema or skin coloured like a scar. In general, you should look out for any CHANGE (Is that mole growing? Has it started bleeding?) and PERSISTANCE (Does that scab refuse to fully heal? Does that scaly patch refuse to go away?).

Use our alphabet check to make sure your moles are harmless. This lists a few of the signs and symptoms that might indicate a melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Asymmetry:
Do the two halves of a mole differ in shape? Or has the shape or appearance changed?
Border:
Are the edges of a mole irregular or blurred? Do the outside edges of the mole or area show notches or look ‘ragged’?
Colour:
Is the colour uneven, patchy or is the lesion showing different shades? You may see different shades of black, brown and pink. ‘C’ also stands for change (e.g. itchiness, bleeding, oozing, change of colour etc.)!
Diameter:
Is the lesion more than 5mm in diameter? Or has it changed size or become raised?
Expert:
Look out for change, and if in doubt, check it out!

We also offer a special mole check report on our website (www.eudelo.com), which explains more detail how to self-examine your skin.

In addition, it would be ideal to have a routine mole check with a dermatologist once per year. We strongly advice against attending some high street clinic, where a non-dermatologist (often this is not even a doctor) takes images of your moles and sends any supposedly suspicious looking ones to a remote dermatologist for his expert opinion. This is really sub-optimal. It’s important to see a proper specialist dermatologist in person.