When To Get A Mole Checked And What To Expect

Learn what to look for and when to see a doctor immediately.
Publish date:
August 5, 2014
sunscreen, vitamin c, moles, dermatologist, skin care, freckles, lesions, mole removal, skin screening

I love my skin--freckles, pale pallor, and all. It is the only organ I prime, paint, lotion, and perfume on a daily basis. So of course, I want to keep it healthy and happy.

Recently, I went in for my first skin screening to check out a few concerning freckles and moles. I also spoke with dermatologist Dr. Rachel Pritzer and esthetician Julie Blecker, of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, a dermatologic medical facility in downtown Chicago, to learn more about proper skin care protection, the "ABCDEs" of moles, and more.

The Best Defense

Your skin is your largest and most environmentally-exposed organ, making it susceptible to damaging pollutants and harmful sun rays. Dr. Pritzer and Blecker both recommend a one-two combination of a topical vitamin C serum and sunscreen as a baseline defense.

“I tell patients [vitamin C serum] is like a shield. It goes on first before your daily sunscreen. Anything that gets through will be taken care of by the vitamin C, as it reduces oxidative stress to the DNA of the skin,” says Dr. Pritzer.

Vitamin C is also a great antioxidant, as Blecker points out, making it a solid level of defense against any harmful toxins that may penetrate through the sunscreen protection, which should contain zinc oxide ("a minimum of 7 percent") and titanium dioxide to block UVB and UVA rays.

The ABCDEs Of Moles

Look at your skin daily and take photos of any freckles, moles, or dry spots that you want to keep a record of. See a doctor immediately if anything looks or feels concerning.

Dr. Pritzer has an "ABCDE" system to help you identify issues that should be checked out by a doctor.

A. Asymmetry

B. Borders changing

C. Colors changing

D. Diameter changing

E. Evolving

What To Expect At A Skin Screening

When I went in for my first skin screening, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My body is littered with freckles and moles, but I was particularly concerned about one freckle on my left shoulder.

The dermatologist examined my scalp first and then visually scanned my body, ending with the area in between my toes. On that freckle that was worrying me, she told me that all was fine, noting that it's a good sign when moles have hair follicles, are a solid brown color, and are symmetrical.

If your dermatologist is concerned about a specific mole or lesion, Dr. Pritzer told me that there are a few procedures for removal and testing that can be done in about five minutes on the day of the initial appointment.

As for me, I was told to visit the dermatologist annually. I have a birthmark on my pinky that was a concern and needs to be tracked, but at this point everything is 100 percent okay.

Do you do look at your skin's freckles and moles daily? How often do you check moles and freckles to make sure none of the ABCDEs are happening?

Photos by Oliver Aldape