Have you noticed a new freckle or mole on your body? Before you panic, read on.

Freckles are deposits of increased melanin in the skin cells caused by exposure to sunlight. Since freckles are a physiological response to sun damage, it is important to watch for changes that could indicate precancerous or cancerous changes

Moles are groups of pigment cells. They form when skin cells grow in a cluster rather than throughout the skin. Most people will develop between 10 and 40 moles by the time they’re adults. Moles that appear after the age of 30 should be checked out by a dermatologist. And if you have any moles that have changed in color, shape or texture, those should also be evaluated.

Dermatologists evaluate skin changes using the ABCDE method.
Letters of Skin Cancer

A is for Asymmetry – one side of the freckle or mole is different than the other

B is for Border – the edges of your mole or freckle are irregular

C is for Color – the color of the area isn’t consistent or has tones of brown, black, blue, white or red

D is for Diameter – the size is larger than a pencil eraser

E is for Evolution – the spot has changed in size, shape or color, or has started to bleed or ooze

Even if you don’t have any suspicious-looking moles or freckles, you should still have an annual skin examination performed by a dermatologist. An annual skin exam is even more important if you have had a personal history of atypical moles or skin cancer, or a family history of malignant melanoma.

In addition to an annual skin exam, you should also perform a self-skin check at home every month.