How To Check Moles
How To Check Moles
How to Check Moles: A physician who specializes in dermatology explains the importance of checking moles, simple steps to help determine if they're normal or if they require medical care, and how to remove unwanted moles.
Hi, my name is Dr. Jenny Wakely, I'm a GP working in the NHS and I specialize in dermatology. Also, I have a company called Beauty Doctor which specializes in cosmetic procedures and dermatological advice.
I'm here to talk to you about moles. You need to check at least every year if you're a particularly mole-y person or if you have a family history of any skin cancers. It's best to check anyway even if you've not got any risk factors.
If you're not sure, or there are difficult parts of the body, such as your back, it helps to get someone to have a look at your back and take pictures every year. They need to be good quality digital pictures - that way you can determine year on year if there have been any changes because it can be quite difficult; if you're looking at a mole everyday, you're not really sure if it's getting bigger or changing in color at all. The risk factors are if you're fair skinned; you burn easily; you have a family history of skin cancer or melanoma; if you have a family history or history in yourself of any other skin cancers that are not melanomas; if you've got atypical moles - if they look a bit different; or, if you are a mole-y person - you have over 100 moles on your body - and also if you have a previous medical history of skin cancer.
They tend to enlarge over time but it can be from weeks to years. The things we do - there's something called the A-B-C-D-E rule which is: A for asymmetry, so, does it look symmetrical? B - look at the borders to make sure they're regular. C - look for color change.
D is for diameter, so if it is more than 6 millimeters in diameter then you need to be worried; and E if it's evolving, so if it's enlarging or changing in any way. Also, we look for what is called major and minor features. Major features are a change in shape or color or irregularity.
The minor features are inflammation, change in sensation, oozing or diameter more than seven milimeters. You can also get non-melanoma skin cancers. They're more common than melanoma.
They often present as a burrowing skin lesion which may not be pigmented. The main thing is that sometimes they're crusty and oozing and fail to heal. If you've got a scab that's just not healing over weeks and weeks and you expected it to heal by now, then you must see a GP.
How to remove moles: There's various, different ways. You need to make sure that it is completely benign. If there are any features which make you suspect an unusual type of mole, please see the excerpt on how to check a mole and then you must see your GP.
If you're 150 percent sure that it is a completely benign mole, then it is safe to remove. If there's any doubt then it needs to be seen by a specialist and biopsied and sent off to the lab. To remove them you can cryo them - you can freeze them with liquid nitrogen.
Sometimes you need to come back every one to three weeks to complete a course of freezing. Sometimes after one course it's absolutely fine, it drops off. It will scab and then it will come off and the skin underneath will be pink and then heal over.
Also, you can use heat therapy or cautery. That can be sometimes slightly painful. Also, you can use minor surgery.
Just a bit of local anesthetic and cut out around the mole and then use some stitches to sew it back together again and the stitches will come out after seven to ten days depending on whereabouts on the body it is. The only thing is, with cautery and cryotherapy you need to be careful if you're dark skinned because when you heal - as you might have already realized in your lives - you can heal darker and that can take a while to fade. Taking out through minor surgery might be a cleaner way of doing things.
I hope this has been useful and thing you for listening.