Moles are clusters of differently coloured cells on the skin. They may be large or small, flat or raised, dark or light, round, oval or irregularly shaped, and in most cases they are not sinister.
They may occur from damage to the skin, usually from the sun, and are especially common in pale skinned New Zealanders of European descent, but may occur in all races. These moles arrive at some stage after birth and are called acquired moles.
Some people are born with hyper-pigmented skin areas, called birthmarks, or congenital moles.
Moles are really only a matter of concern when they change in appearance. It is helpful to know what moles and skin markings you have, so that you may determine if any changes are significant. It is best to check all of your moles at least once a year to note any changes.
There is a simple way to determine if any change to a mole is likely to be an issue, or a sign of possible melanoma, or skin cancer: the ABCD coding.
A = asymmetry, does one half of the mole look different to the other?
B = border, has the edge or border of the mole become irregular or blurry?
C = colour, has the colour changed, is the mole now unevenly coloured?
D = diameter, has the mole become larger?
If any of the ABCD signs above have changed for any of your moles, then you need to seek some help from your doctor or pharmacist. If you are unsure if you need to get your moles checked then talk to your community pharmacist. They can advise you if the moles have changed and refer you for specialist help to get your moles treated.
If your moles have not changed, then congratulate yourself for passing the ABCD check, and continue to use sunscreen and protect your skin from sun damage in the future.