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How Do You Spot Melanoma?

Apr 4, 2008
With the threat of skin cancer growing greater every year, you need to learn how to protect yourself against the disease.

You must get into the habit of covering up your skin with clothing or sunscreen, and not roasting under a baking sun for hours at a time. If you do spend too much time in the sun, a pigment called melanin could be your downfall.

Melanin is the pigment that colours your moles and freckles, and it is responsible for soaking up excess UV rays so that your skin does not get permanently damaged.

Melanin can only handle so much, however, and after a time the excess energy it absorbs from the sun can cause your skin cells to mutate, generally at existing moles. To prevent this disease, you must learn to protect your skin from excess exposure to sunlight! As a backup plan, you will need to know the difference between a regular mole and melanoma; a common form of skin cancer.

So how can you spot melanoma? It can be confusing, since the disease will strike areas of your body that are already dark and lumpy, like moles. A normal mole is an area built up with melanin, stained brown by UV rays.

Ever notice how after a long day in the sun you develop freckles? That is your melanin pigments at work, soaking up excess energy from the sun and protecting your deeper layers of skin.

Without this process, a day in the sun could easily burn you right down into the dermal layer (normal sunburns will affect the uppermost layer of skin, the epidermis). Melanin is important when it comes to protecting you from sun damage, but when you have been overexposed the pigment cannot cope and you may develop melanoma.

There are various signs of melanoma: unusual moles, sores that will not heal, and lumps on the skin that cause pain or itching. When it comes to spotting the disease, it is important that you know your own unique pattern of moles and skin conditions so that a new growth will be immediately apparent to you.

Do a self check once a month so that you are familiar with the state of your skin and will be aware of any changes.

What does melanoma look like? If it has begun from a normal mole, the differences should be easy to spot if you are sure to check regularly. A normal mole is round or ovalish in shape, and will not change drastically in shape or colour over a short amount of time.

While these moles probably will grow after lengthy exposure to the sun, this does not necessarily constitute skin cancer and there is not generally any need to panic if you notice this. The difference between normal moles and melanoma is the shape and colour.

Melanoma will be a dark spot with a ragged edge instead of the usual symmetrical shape, and the colour will probably not be consistent throughout the lump. The shading of the brownish or reddish shape will tend to be darker in one spot and lighter on the other.

If the mole looks like it has gained a life of its own and is trying to spread across the entirety of your body, then you are probably right. Get it checked out by your doctor immediately!

Remember that while skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, it is also the easiest to beat. Self check your skin every month to be sure that all is well with your own collection of moles and freckles, and if something catches you off guard, have it looked at right away.
About the Author
Louise Forrest has created the ultimate FREE Health & Beauty guide. Find out how you can gain access to FREE information articles, tips and techniques at http://www.NaturalElements.co.uk
Learn how you can benefit from dry skin protection at www.NaturalElements.co.uk
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