Moles (the medical term is “nevi”) come in all shapes and sizes. Most moles are harmless, especially the ones that have been on your skin since childhood; however, it is important to keep an eye on them and know what changes are concerning. Learning the “ABCDEs” of moles can help you identify which changes would warrant a visit to the dermatologist.
Asymmetry: When you look at your mole, try to draw a line through its center and see if the halves look the same as one another. Harmful moles often have irregular shape and color and may need to be seen by a doctor.
Border: Look at the edges of your mole. If it is obvious where the mole starts and stops it is less concerning for cancer. If the borders are smudgy or have streaks or little “spider legs” branching off, you should have your mole seen by a dermatologist.
Color: Normal healthy moles usually have an even color throughout. If there are areas of red, white, black, or uneven brown coloring, you should be evaluated in the clinic.
Diameter: Larger moles may be more concerning than others–although many larger moles present from early childhood are often not harmful. A good rule of thumb is to have a mole checked if it is larger than a pencil eraser, or approximately 6mm.
Evolution: The final clue to look for in a mole is change. If you notice a mole growing over time, changing shape or color, or becoming itchy or painful, you should have it checked by your doctor.