Any type of growth, flat or raised, on your skin that is brown, tan or pink can be considered a mole. Sun exposure often causes a mole to darken. The average person has between 10 to 20 moles, according to the National Cancer Institute. Most are benign, or harmless. A mole that changes in color, shape or has jagged edges should be examined by a medical professional. He will most likely remove it and have it examined for possible cancer cells called melanoma. Some risk factors for melanoma include fair skin, blistering sunburns, family history and weakened immune system.
Examine all of your skin in front of a full-length mirror. Use a hand-held mirror to examine the back of your neck, your scalp, and your back. Look at all of your moles to see if they have changed color, shape or size and notice any new moles.
See your doctor if a mole is oozing or itching. Also see your doctor if you have a sore that does not heal, as this could be a sign of skin cancer, too.
When examining your moles each month, keep the ABDCs of malignant melanoma in mind: Asymmetry (when the mole has a different shape in one area than the other), border irregular (when the mole has scalloped edges), color varied (a mole that has more than one color), diameter (a mole that is bigger than the size of a pencil eraser is a concern).
Ask a friend or family member to check your scalp for a moles. Inform them what to look for, so they will know a suspicious mole when they see one.
Tips & Warnings
See your doctor concerning any mole that is in an area where it is bothersome because clothing rubs against it.