Most people have moles, and they are typically not harmful or dangerous to your health in any way. However, there are certain types of moles that do pose serious concerns. To be sure, it is important to regularly check your skin at home and have moles evaluated by an experienced and knowledgeable dermatologist. Dr. Liz Damstetter at Reserve Dermatology can perform mole evaluations to ensure your best possible skin health.
The frequency and timing in which you have mole evaluations depends on a few risk factors. Patients who have a personal or family history of skin cancer should have moles evaluated every three months to one year. This also applies to patients who have a large number (50+) of moles or multiple abnormal moles. Patients who are at a lower risk of skin cancer can generally wait a year or two between each mole evaluation. However, at home self-exams are important to check for new moles or warning signs in existing moles.
Liz Damstetter, MD
When self-examining moles, keep the mnemonic device “ABCDE” in mind. This refers to:
- Asymmetrical shape
- Border changes or irregularities
- Color changes
- Diameter growth
As you check on your moles, watch for any of the above changes. These can indicate that skin cancer is developing. It can also be a concern to see new moles develop after age 40. Most benign moles will remain consistent in size, shape, and color throughout your lifetime, so changes to the mole indicate that you should have it evaluated by a dermatologist.
“Dr. Liz is truly the best dermatologist I’ve ever been to. She is attentive, kind, and genuinely cares about her patients and their overall skin health. I can not recommend her enough!!!”
“Wonderful experience here! The doctor took the time to educate me on a variety of cosmetic options and gave her candid opinion resulting in just the right amount of cosmetic adjustments! Her staff was delightful and attentive! I would highly recommend for general derm needs and cosmetic adjustments.”
“Dr. Damstetter was the first dermatologist I trusted to do my Botox. She is both knowledgeable and professional and did a fantastic job. I will be using her for any and all of my future needs.”
For a majority of mole evaluations, Dr. Damstetter will simply perform a visual examination of the moles to check for any signs of abnormality or skin cancer. This can include checking the skin on your scalp, fingers and toes, the soles of the feet, or the groin if necessary. Remember to bring any suspicious moles you notice during a self-evaluation to her attention. If a mole does show concerning symptoms, Dr. Damstetter may then perform a biopsy. This is a minor procedure that involves removing a small amount of tissue so it can be examined to make a diagnosis.
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It is important to self-examine your skin once per month. Typically, most patients find this easiest after a shower while the skin is still wet. Using a mirror, examine your skin from head to toe, checking for the “ABCDE” warning signs in moles. Remember to check areas that are typically hidden such as the backs of your knees or between your toes. It can be helpful to take smartphone photos of your moles to compare month-to-month and save to a folder to check for changes. Some patients also measure their moles and take notes to keep track of any growth or evolution over time. These notes can be helpful for your dermatologist during a professional evaluation.
Regular mole evaluation appointments are key to your skin health and overall health. To schedule a mole evaluation appointment with Dr. Damstetter, contact Reserve Dermatology. Call our Glenview office or contact us online.