Moles are quite common. In Nigerians, they are typically dark, oval, or round and can appear anywhere although are more likely to be found on the scalp, armpits, under the nails, and between the fingers and toes. They may fade away in time or even get darker with the hormonal changes seen in adolescence and pregnancy. Most times, we tend to ignore their presence. It’s okay since they’re rarely a problem. However, an occasional inspection never hurts. Sometimes albeit very unlikely, changes in a mole indicate a problem.
Moles are basically a cluster of skin cells(melanocytes). Normally, melanocytes give your skin the color it has. However, they’re spread evenly and that’s why our skin color is the same all over the body or is supposed to be, at least. What can go wrong with moles? Moles may transform into melanoma, a form of skin cancer. This transformation is commoner in Caucasians than Africans. Certain factors may increase the risk of a transformation. These include a personal or family history of melanoma, having many moles, having unusual moles(bigger and irregularly shaped), or being born with large moles known as congenital naevi.
Now, what are those things to really watch out for? Watch out for changes. This means that one should be familiar with the normal appearance of these moles. A good way to memorize what to look out for is using the acronym ‘ABCDE’. A represents an asymmetrical shape. Both halves of a mole should be alike. If one is unlike the other, that’s asymmetry. B represents the border. Moles with irregular borders suspicious. C stands for color. It has been said earlier that hormonal changes may cause moles to darken. However, color changes should never be neglected.
D is for diameter. A mole growing in size should always raise attention. E means evolving. This combines all A-D plus unusual symptoms like itchiness and bleeding. If one feels for any reason that one may be predisposed to melanoma, some preventive measures can be employed. Using sunscreen helps. Covering up properly using sunglasses, long sleeves, and other protective clothing. If you can, avoid the sun especially in the afternoon when it’s usually the hottest.
Abnormal changes are best told to your doctor.