The harmful effect of the sun on our skin has been a prominent feature in health warnings over recent years. We now know more about the sun’s rays, the damage they can cause and how to look out for the warning signs.
One of the indicators that your skin has become damaged by the sun is if you see changes to moles on your body. Here’s what to look out for and when you should consider consulting a doctor.
Firstly, it is important to be clear about what a mole actually is. Our skin contains components called ‘melanocytes’ which are specialised cells that create the skin colourant known as ‘melanin’. It is clusters of melanin in the skin that form what we know as moles, which are often quite dark in colour. Most moles are harmless, but some can mutate, and develop complications.
If these cells develop mutations, then they can cause ‘melanoma’ – which is the technical term for skin cancer, and can be very serious if undetected or left untreated. Due to their increased presence, people who a greater number of moles naturally have a higher risk of developing skin cancer compared with people who have very few or no moles.
There are two factors that needs to be considered: prevention and cure. The best advice is to look after your skin well in the first place, avoid excess sun and definitely avoid getting sun burned.
The other thing to be mindful of is checking your moles regularly and ensuring that you are vigilant in looking out for any changes. This will not prevent harmful melanoma developing, but early detection greatly improves the chances of being able to treat a problem, should it develop.
What can be done about moles?
If you are worried about a mole because it has changed shape or colour, feels painful or has become raised then it is recommended that you consult a doctor to seek a professional opinion. If tests prove the mole is cancerous, then a course of treatment will be immediately discussed.
If the mole is benign (i.e. does not contain dangerous melanoma) then you may still wish to get it removed, to reduce the risk of problems developing in the future. If it is a large mole you may feel it also looks more visually appealing to have it taken away.
Surgeons such as Mr Alan Park can perform surgery to remove moles, and the operation is typically quick, relatively painless and straight forward.
Moles can either be removed with a laser, can be ‘shaved’ under local anaesthetic or can be removed via a surgical incision, which is also performed under local anaesthetic.
If you wish to consider mole removal, book a consultation with Mr Park at either his Coventry or Leamington clinic, where he will assess your mole, or moles, and discuss the best course of action for you.