Nevi – how to examine them? Take care of your health on European Melanoma Day

How do you know if a birthmark on your skin is dangerous? How to protect yourself from skin malignancies? On European Melanoma Day, learn some simple recommendations to help you take care of your health.

What is melanoma

Nevi, “moles” – almost everyone has them. Some are congenital, while others develop on the skin in later years of life. Should they concern us?

Most of the pigmented nevi are harmless. However, each nevus should be observed, because under certain conditions there is a risk of melanoma.

Melanoma is a malignant tumor. It mainly develops in melanocytes – the cells responsible for producing melanin, the skin’s pigment. It appears on previously unchanged skin or within existing nevi. It can be tentatively recognized by several characteristics. That’s why it’s so important to monitor your skin regularly. Early diagnosis enables more effective treatment.

Learn about risk factors for better melanoma prevention.

Melanoma vs. “mole”

“Mole” is the common name for a pigmented nevus. It is usually formed under the influence of UV radiation, but this is not the only cause. Nevi can have a genetic basis. They also develop from viral infections. If the “moles” are small, their shape remains regular and their color uniform – most likely the change is harmless.

Melanoma – symptoms

There are several characteristic features by which melanoma can be distinguished from a harmless nevus. The ABCDE method is helpful in diagnosing cancer:

A – (pol.znamię wyraźne rozciągnięte na jedną sronę) asymmetry – nevus clearly stretched to one side;
B – (pol.brzegi nieregularne, poszarpane, ze zgrubieniami) edges irregular, jagged, with thickening;
C – (pol.czerowny lub czarny nierównomierny kolor) red or black uneven color;
D – (pol. duży rozmiar – znamię większe niż 6 mm) large size – a birthmark larger than 6 mm;
E – (pol.zauważalna, postępująca zmiana w wyglądzie znamienia) evolution – a noticeable, progressive change in the appearance of a nevus.

If you observe a birthmark with ABCDE characteristics on your skin, see a doctor as soon as possible. A specialized examination of the lesion will be necessary.

Melanoma under the fingernail?

Melanoma can appear in various places on the skin. That’s why it’s a good idea to systematically monitor your body, paying attention to any changes. Melanoma can occur on the scalp, face, neck, trunk, extremities and even under the fingernail. According to statistics, in women the most common location of melanoma is the face and lower extremities. In men, on the other hand, the cancer usually appears on the skin of the torso.

Subungual melanoma is a distinct type of cancer. Due to its location, it is sometimes recognized late. So remember to pay attention to the not-so-visible parts of the skin as well when observing.

Risk factors

The risk of developing melanoma increases if:

  • skin with a light complexion and red or blond hair;
  • a large number of nevi;
  • a history of sunburn;
  • low tolerance to sunlight;
  • regular prolonged exposure to sunlight (more than an hour a day);
  • inherited skin cancer susceptibility,
  • frequent use of tanning beds.

Melanoma in children?

According to the Mother and Child Institute, melanoma is very rare in children. Nevertheless, it is worth being vigilant and monitoring the appearance of nevi regardless of age. You should see a doctor with your child in particular when:

  • the birthmark noticeably grows, changes shape and color;
  • an inflammatory border or irregular discoloration appeared around the nevus;
  • the nevus bleeds, ulceration or erosions appear;
  • nodules are visible or palpable;
  • there is pain and itching;
  • the surrounding lymph nodes are enlarged.

Regardless of the symptoms, remember to protect your child’s skin with sunscreen. Daily photoprotection is very important at every stage of life. Carefully choose cosmetics for children’s skin care.

Photoprotection and more. How to protect yourself from skin cancer

There are several simple ways you can reduce your risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers.

  1. Take care of photoprotection. Protect your skin from the sun by using creams and other products with high SPF.
  2. Avoid the sun, especially between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.
  3. Wear sunglasses and protective headgear.
  4. Give up frequent visits to tanning beds.
  5. Watch your skin regularly. Observe existing and new moles.
  6. Don’t delay your visit to the doctor, if you notice alarming symptoms.
  7. Sign up for a preventive visit to your doctor at least once a year.
  8. Take care of your skin on a daily basis. Use restorative and soothing cosmetics as needed.

European Melanoma Day is a reminder of the importance of daily health care. Melanoma prevention is worth remembering all year round.

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