If you’ve recently spotted a new mole on your skin, the first rule is, don’t panic. Many people develop moles, atypical or acquired, over their lifetimes and many of these are completely healthy. The medical term for a mole is a nevus; the plural is nevi. While it’s great to check your skin thoroughly every-so-often, not every spot or mole that comes up is cancer, or melanoma. When you notice something new, employ the ABCDEs, because unsafe, cancerous, or melanoma sites tend to have:

A – asymmetry: 1/2 of the mole is unlike the other

B – border irregularity: the shape of the mole is irregular, poorly defined, or scalloped

C – color: varied from one area to another; shades of tan or brown; black; or while, red, or blue

D – diameter: greater than 6mm or is growing

E – evolving: looks different from other similar spots, or is changing in color, size, or or shape quickly

There are additional features such as bleeding, oozing, scaliness, itching, pain, and tenderness that should also be noted.

The truth of the matter is that if you notice something suspicious, you need to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rueckl or another dermatologist. The longer a site is there and is potentially dangerous, the more problematic it can be to remove it. Since the skin is the largest organ of the body, you need to protect it just as much as your heart, lungs, liver, etc. Don’t worry about every little skin spot, but don’t ignore suspicious sites either. Schedule an annual skin check with your dermatologist to go over any new spots or sites, and if you’ve had previous skin cancers in the past, increase these visits to twice yearly so anything new can be addressed quickly.