Let’s talk the ABCDE of moles — the kind on your body, not the ones in the ground

Life in the Keys is life in paradise, but that sun can wreak havoc on your skin.

Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5 FM for Medical Matters this morning.

Today’s topic continues last week’s talk of skin cancer, the abnormal growth of skin cells.

It’s new lumps or bumps that appear on the skin and can change in color that are caused by chronic exposure to the sun.

Sommer said, “Those UV rays when your skin is unprotected is very dangerous. So living down here in the Keys it’s really important you use sunscreen.”

The three more common types of skin cancer are basal cell, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Moles can sometimes be a concern.

Sommer said, “Moles you may have for a really long time and they should be round, they should be circular. The color shouldn’t be that dark. If you have moles, over time, you’ll see them. It’s when their borders become irregular. If you notice a change in color, if they start to become asymmetrical.”

An irregular border or if the diameter is larger than a quarter inch, that needs to be checked out.

Is a mole always a raised surface?

Sommer said, “Sometimes they can be flat. Sometimes they can be more raised, but any type of dark spot on your skin or new spots, just look at them. If they get darker, if they change color, if you notice something different about them, if they become scaly, itchy, those are things you should watch out for.”

Moles on the back and places you can’t really see should be checked out by the doctor.

Sommer said, “Down here you should always have some type of skin cancer screening at least once a year, at the very least, and if they decide you do have stuff that needs biopsied, they will have you come more often.”

People at risk include those with fair skin, excessive exposure to UV rays, a history of moles and a weakened immune system.

Sommer said, “Even if you’re on an immune suppressing drug for an autoimmune disease, you need to be careful.”

Sun screen really helps decrease the risk.

Sommer reminded, “Just because the temperature gets cooler doesn’t mean the rays of the sun aren’t less intense. So the rays of the sun are always strong no matter the temperature. So even if it’s 75 degrees, I don’t have to worry about sweating, I’m not going to put my sun screen on. You still need to put your sun screen on if you’re going to be outside for long periods of time.”

There is an ABCDE of irregular moles. A is for the asymmetrical or irregular shapes. B is for the irregular border.

Sommer said, “If you have a mole that has always been pretty circular, no changes in color and you see that starting to change, then you need to have that checked out.”

C is for color, so if moles become dark or almost look black, that needs to be seen.

D is for diameter, so if the mole is larger than a quarter inch, give the doctor a call.

E is for evolving.

Sommer said, “This is just as a whole, changes over time. If you have spots on your skin that you’ve had your whole life and you notice that they’re changing, just have it get looked at.”

The squamous cell carcinoma is a cancer that forms in the middle to outer layers of the skin.

Sommer said, “Squamous cell and melanoma are the two threatening skin cancers that if left untreated will become a really big problem and they can spread to other parts of the body.”

All this can be found on any part of the body.

Mike Stapleford of KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM said, “The primary takeaway here is if you have concerns, family history, you know you’ve been exposed to the sun more than you probably should, you’re seeing changes on your skin with your moles, it’s important to get early intervention. Please reach out.”

Sommer reminded, “For sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher for your skin. If you’re fair, I have fair children, I put 50 or higher on them and water resistance is always good, especially down here in the summer because you do sweat. It’s not even just going in the water. You should apply it at least 15 to 30 minutes before you actually go out into the sun. When your skin is completely dry, the cream is the best because then you know you’re going to cover every area. It’s white, so you don’t have to make yourself look like a ghost to go out into the sun, but just make sure every part is covered. With the spray sunscreens, just make sure, a lot of people spray it, but they don’t rub it in. You could be missing an area. Make sure, especially with children, you’re getting all the exposed skin covered.”

For more information, click here: https://www.keywestsurgicalgroup.com/