Dermatologists recommend the following to their patients:
- If you see a mole on your skin that is changing, itching, or bleeding, make an appointment to see a dermatologist. These are signs of melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Caught early, melanoma can be cured. Without treatment, melanoma can spread. This can be deadly.
- Perform self-exams of your skin. A self-exam can help you catch melanoma early.
To help you learn how to check your skin, know what to look for, and draw what you see on your skin, go to:
Body mole map (pdf)
- Protect your skin from the sun. It is believed that being out in the sun increases the number of moles on your skin. And we know that the sun causes skin cancer. Tanning beds and sun lamps also cause skin cancer.
An easy way to reduce your risk of getting skin cancer is to skip getting a tan. You also should wear sunscreen every day.
- If you have 100 or more moles, be sure you have a dermatologist. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you also should have a dermatologist:
- Do you have pigment that covers a large part of your body?
- Do you have familial atypical multiple-mole melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome or a similar medical condition?
People who have FAMMM should have a full-body screening every 3 to 6 months, beginning at puberty. Your dermatologist may recommend less-frequent screenings if your moles are stable (not changing).
- Join a support group. If you have a higher risk of getting melanoma, joining a support group may help you feel better. You have a higher risk if you have FAMMM, large noticeable moles, or a mole that covers most of the body.
People who have noticeable or unusual moles often have to deal with stares and whispers. Meeting with people who face similar challenges can provide emotional support.
- Nevus Outreach Inc.: Support and information for people who have large nevi and neurocutaneous melanocytosis (NCM).
- Nevus Network: Support group for people who have congenital nevi.
Learn more about moles: