Sun Spots: The Real Deal About Getting Your Skin Checked

Kristin Booker

Girl checking her makeup in mirror

Summertime brings the summer sun, which means, we all know – we repeat: WE ALL KNOW – to protect ourselves with some serious sunscreen. But the strong rays of the skin can create some unwanted sun spots. Some are harmless, but even when you’re young, you should be checking for those spots that aren’t just annoying…they can be a serious health concern.

We asked one of our favorite dermatologists, Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research for the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center and consulting dermatologist for Skinceuticals, to give us the real scoop on getting your moles checked. From how often you should get checked to what the spots really mean, here’s the real deal about what it really means to take care of your skin:

Beauty High: How often should you get your moles checked?

Dr. Joshua Zeichner: For the average person, once yearly checks in the office are recommended. If you have a history of atypical moles, then professional checks every 6 months are best. Regardless of how often you are visiting your dermatologist, you should check yourself once monthly at home.

So, how exactly can you perform an at-home mole check?

While your dermatologist has the experience and special tools to spot worrisome moles, there are some rules you can use at home when you look at yourself. Choose a well-lit room like the bathroom. Close the door, and don’t be shy. Get into your birthday suit and check every nook and cranny, even between the toes and in your private parts. If you spot something funny, don’t wait a year for your annual check. Visit your derm to get your spot checked right away.

What exactly would be cause for alarm? What are we looking for?

When it comes to spotting irregular moles, it’s really as simple as following your ABCDE’s.
A: Asymmetry – When one side of the mole does not match the other side.
B: Border – Harmless moles have a smooth border, without notches.
C: Color – If a mole has multiple colors, like brown, black, white, or blue, it may be atypical.
D: Diameter –  Typically, harmless moles are smaller in diameter than 6 mm, which is the size of a pencil eraser.
E: Evolution –  Change over time is perhaps the most important factor. If a mole is new or looks different get it checked out.

Yikes! Ok, so let’s talk about how NOT to get those moles. Let’s talk about protecting yourself.

Protect yourself the best you can. I always say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of repair. 15 minutes a day adds up over a lifetime, so protect yourself every day. UV rays can penetrate through the clouds and glass windows. Sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 and a broad spectrum is important every day. Pair your sunscreen with an antioxidant (like SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic), which is like a fire extinguisher that helps put out the free radical damage caused to the skin by UV light exposure.

Image via Istock

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