If Your Mole Is Any Bigger Than This, You Need to See a Dermatologist
This is the key sign you need to get it check out.
When checking your body for unfamiliar or shape-shifting spots, it can be hard to tell what demands a visit to the dermatologist and what's not worth the trip. While there are a few factors to consider, dermatologists say that there's one surefire sign you should show your mole to a professional. If you compare your it to this common object and it's the same size or bigger, that means you should get your mole checked out. Keep reading to find out the size to look out for, and for another sign of danger, check out If This Body Part Hurts You at Night, See Your Doctor.
There are five qualities to look for that could signal a mole is irregular.
Dermatologist and Mohs surgeon Susan Bard, MD, says dermatologists tend to take a streamlined approach to decipher which moles pose a potential risk and which are likely benign. They use the acronym "ABCDE," which stands for asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolution.
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If your mole is larger than a pencil eraser, you need to see a dermatologist.
When it comes to the diameter, most dermatologists say that if you notice a mole that's wider than a pencil eraser (about five millimeters) or larger, you should make an appointment to get it checked out.
"Moles are typically pretty small. You may have some variation in mole size throughout your body, but overall a regular mole will be smaller than a pencil eraser," according to the experts at North Pacific Dermatology in Washington. "When your dermatologist is performing a mole evaluation or a skin cancer screening, they will be looking for moles that exist outside of these normal diameters. If there's a mole larger than a pencil eraser, your dermatologist will likely want to look at it more closely or have it removed, just to be safe."
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If your mole is smaller than an eraser, but it's changed in size, you should still see a dermatologist.
With the "E" in the ABCDE model standing for "evolution," that means any change in the mole could be cause for concern.
"Evolving moles are a key early sign of different types of skin cancer. If you notice that one of your moles is changing in shape, size, or color on a consistent basis, it's time to see your dermatologist for an evaluation," the professionals at North Pacific Dermatology write. "Mole evolution can be a sure sign of irregular cell growth, and any evolving moles on your skin need to be looked at as soon as possible."
And for more helpful information about the most common kind of cancer, here are 27 Skin Cancer Facts Doctors Wish You Knew About.
You also want to check your mole's symmetry (or lack thereof), color, and border.
According to North Pacific Dermatology, asymmetry is one of the earliest signs of skin cancer in a mole. If one half of your mole doesn't resemble the other half, you should get it checked out.
Also, if the border of your mole is irregular, for example, "scalloped or jagged rather than smooth or evenly contoured," dermatologist Julie Karen, MD, says to see your doctor.
Similarly, a mole that's irregular in color could be cause for concern. Karen says to look out for multiple colors or shades of colors existing in the same lesion. Additionally, Bard says that a mole that's black, blue, red, or has a loss of color is reason enough to make an appointment with your dermatologist.
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