Moles are benign growths comprised primarily of skin pigment cells. They can be flesh colored, tan, brown, pink, etc. It is very common to have a few moles, but some people have many moles.
Most moles remain harmless throughout a person’s life, but some do become abnormal over time and some of those do develop into melanoma, a serious and potentially life threatening form of skin cancer.
To reduce your risk of melanoma
- Avoid tanning in the sun or in tanning beds. Tanning beds have been classified by the World Health Organization as carcinogenic. Tanning under the age of 30 increases the risk of melanoma by 70%. Embrace your natural skin tone—the skin is the largest organ of the body and thus a big part of who you are!
- Be safe in the sun. We all need some sun—some more than others. Fairer skinned people must be careful as sunburn can occur quickly. The British Association of Dermatology has a great phone app called WorldUV that allows one to customize sun exposure based on skin type and UV Index (the amount of ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun) for the day and location.
- Check your skin. The frequency with which people should check over their skin varies based on risk factors for skin cancer, but it is a good idea for EVERYONE to check their skin at least annually. A good way to remember this is to check your ‘birthday suit’ on your birthday.