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Use the ABCDE Method to Check Your Moles

Moles can be no big deal, or they could be an early warning sign of a serious problem. If you’re worried about one or more moles on your body, you can use the ABCDE method to check your moles for signs of malignancy.

At Associated Dermatologists, with locations in West Bloomfield, Commerce, Novi, and Berkeley, Michigan, our team of expert skincare providers includes experienced surgeons who can identify dangerous moles and perform biopsies if necessary to confirm a suspected diagnosis.

Checking moles is something you can do alone with the help of strategically placed mirrors, or with a trusted partner (significant other, family member, or friend). Subject each mole to direct scrutiny, and run it through the following “letter tests”:

A normal freckle or mole is usually symmetrical, meaning it’s a smooth, uninterrupted circle or oval shape. Asymmetrical moles can be a sign of melanoma — but not a definitive one, so don’t panic. Just get the mole checked out.

Freckles usually aren’t raised at all, and you can slide your fingertips right over them without feeling them. Moles are slightly raised, but their edges are typically smooth, and the borders are even. Scalloped, notched, or lumpy moles, or moles that feel bubbly or rough under your fingers can be a reason to book in with your dermatologist.

In most cases, moles that are a single color of brown (ranging from pale tan to almost black) and don’t have any other warning signs are benign. Danger signs in regard to color exist when moles are mottled and differently colored, or an odd, non-skin color like red, blue, or pure white. Colorless, or amelanotic moles can also be a sign of melanoma.

Dark / Diameter
Dark moles of large diameter can be dangerous. Look for moles that are darker than other spots, and measure them to see if they’re as big as a pencil eraser. If a mole exceeds ¼-inch (6mm) across and is markedly darker than other moles on your body, it could be a sign of cancerous cells.

Any spot on your skin that evolves, or changes, should be viewed with suspicion. Make a list of your moles, using a body chart if necessary. Any new moles that appear should be carefully monitored, and any moles that change in size, shape, color, or elevation should be looked at by a professional. This goes double for any mole that suddenly starts to itch, crust over, or bleed.

Finally, many dermatologists will also use the letter F for “ugly duckling” moles. If you have several moles, but see that “one of these things is not like the others,” your odd-man-out mole may need to be checked.

If you do need a mole excision and biopsy, our team is experienced and compassionate and will make the process as easy as possible for you. Call the location closest to you, or request an appointment online.