January is traditionally a time for getting fit, shedding those pounds and generally making little (or big) changes to improve our health and wellbeing. What better time then, to take a good look at your skin and check your moles?

Moles, known medically as ‘melanocytic naevi’, are small skin lesions and can be either coloured (usually brown) or non pigmented (skin coloured). In addition to colour they can also vary in shape and size. Some of our moles are there from birth (congenital) whilst others start to increasingly appear with increasing sun exposure. It’s important not to confuse moles with sunspots, known medically as ‘solar lentigos’. Sunspots are a form of pigmentation which can easily be removed by specific lasers. Moles on the other hand should never be removed at a laser clinic and we would always urge people to see their GP or dermatologist to discuss removal.

So why is it important to check your moles? Put simply, this collection of pigmented cells can change and if abnormal cell changes occur, it is possible to develop a rare form of skin cancer called ‘Malignant melanoma’. The problem with melanomas is, if left undetected, the cancer can spread to other organs in the body. Early detection therefore is vital to the successful treatment of this type of skin cancer.

So what do you need to look out for?

The most important thing is that you get to know your moles so that you can easily spot any changes in their appearance or indeed if any new, fast growing moles start to appear. If you come across the latter, it’s best to get it checked out as soon as possible by your GP or dermatologist. To keep an eye on existing moles, the ABCDE approach to self-check is a good start.

A is for ASYMMETRY: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.

B is for BORDER: Normal spots have smooth edges. Cancerous spots may have irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred edges.

C is for COLOUR: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black or sometimes with patches of red, white, or blue.

D is for DIAMETER: Normal spots are about the size of a pencil end-about 1/4 inch- anything larger is worrisome.

E is for Elevated: Having a spot above skin level is another warning sign.

Spotting unusual moles early gives the best opportunity for intervention and cure if any abnormalities are identified. The message at Laser Skin Solutions is, ‘if in doubt, get it checked out!’.

Whilst we do not offer a mole removal service, (nor do we diagnose abnormalities), we do specialise in skin rejuvenation as well as laser hair removal. If you would like a free skin rejuvenation, or a laser tattoo removal consultation, please contact our Bournemouth Laser Clinic on 01202 29 69 69 or contact us via our webpage.