Anxiety over your moles can get bad enough to disrupt productivity at work, ruin social events & cause insomnia.
However, you can overcome this nagging problem.
I know how anxiety over moles feels. I’ve been there. I live at high altitude (closer to the sun) and had a blistering sunburn in childhood.
I once expressed my concern to a dermatologist. She said that many people have had blistering sunburns in childhood and never develop melanoma.
Likewise, many smokers never develop lung cancer, but when a person has a risk factor for a disease, it’s normal to wonder about the possibility of developing that illness.
“While it’s a good idea to keep a general inventory of your spots, moles and any hyperpigmentations or discolorations in your skin, many people can become hyperconscious of the possibility of melanoma,” says Dr. Gretchen Frieling, MD, Triple Board Certified Boston Area Dermatopathologist.
“If you have not had a melanoma or are not visibly seeing dysplastic nevi [big, lopsided moles], you can wear your sunscreen and monitor your skin without overwhelming yourself with worry.
“If you have a spot or mole that you are worried about, consulting your doctor is the right thing to do.
“It’s even okay to ask for a second opinion if you have noticed bleeding or an open sore spot over your discoloration.
“However, obsessing over the risk of melanoma is going to stress you out very quickly. If you have a history of melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma in your family, let your doctor know.
“Wear sunscreen accordingly and avoid tanning beds. Taking sensible precautions, monitoring your skin and consulting with your physician and dermatologist on a regular basis is enough.”
A person with health anxiety is ruled by emotions rather than logic. Thus, I recommend some additional things you can do to arrest your anxiety over melanoma and your moles.
Can you draw?
Drawing your moles may sound like giving in to an obsession over melanoma, but this technique is actually quite effective at providing reassurance.
If any moles concern you, draw them on a sketch pad, scaled up many times in size, and render their unique patterns.
When you check these moles every month over a period of time and see that their patterns have not changed, you’ll get peace of mind.
To an illustrator with a natural eye for detail, this technique will be quite easy.
There are applications that can record images of your moles. Just start taking the images and let the app do its work. However, these apps do NOT diagnose melanoma.
• Have the same dermatologist examine your skin every year.
• You may want to consider having this done twice a year. Just because this isn’t a standard recommendation doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Just make the appointment.
• I do this and nobody questions it. It helps bring peace of mind.
• Ask the doctor to use a dermatoscope! This is a handheld lens. The naked eye can miss things that a dermatoscope can detect.
• If you’re worried about a mole but the doctor said it looks benign, request that it be removed for a biopsy. There is nothing wrong with making this request if the doctor says it looks normal!
The more familiar you are with your moles, the less you will worry about them.
Finally, you’ll want to check out serial digital dermoscopy—a mole-mapping technology that can catch melanoma extremely early.
Dr. Frieling’s website is gfacemd.com. In addition to 10+ years of experience in dermatology and dermapathology, Dr. Frieling provides advanced micro-enhancement techniques to optimize the health and beauty of her patients’ skin.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.