Moles appear gradually in the first 20 to 30 years of life and can change over time (shape, color, and texture). They are usually more common and numerous on areas of the body that are exposed to sun.
CAUTION People with many moles (over 50) are at a higher risk of developing melanoma, a type of skin cancer that is increasingly common, and can be fatal if not treated rapidly.
Although heredity can be a risk factor for developing melanoma, this cancer is mostly caused by exposure to the sun. Sunburn in childhood can promote the development of melanoma. However, excessive exposure to sun can increase the risk at any age. Artificial ultraviolet radiation (tanning booths) carries the same risk. Health Canada advises against using tanning devices, especially by people under 18. If you have fair skin, freckles, red or blonde hair, and your skin becomes red instead of tanning, you have a higher risk of contracting skin cancer.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE SUN
It is important for everyone to protect themselves against the sun, but it is particularly essential for children and teens. Avoid exposure to the sun between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. when the UV index is the highest. If you must go out during these hours, stay in the shade, wear clothing that protects your skin, as well as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Thirty minutes before going out, apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or over, and reapply every two hours or after swimming or intense physical activity.
CAUTION UV rays can pass through clouds, fog, and haze.
EXAMINE YOUR MOLES
Look out for any changes to your skin. A new mole after age 30 or an existing mole that suddenly changes in appearance should be checked by a doctor. Certain symptoms should be reported immediately to your doctor, such as a mole that becomes painful, itchy, red, or that thickens or starts to bleed. Monitor and observe the size of your moles. Ask for help checking the moles on your back or use a mirror.
If melanoma is not diagnosed rapidly, it can spread to the deep layers of the skin before reaching the blood vessels and lymph system and invading other parts of the body. At this stage, it is often too late. However, when melanoma is detected early, the cure rate is 90%. Early diagnosis enables the abnormal cells to be removed through surgery thus avoiding a recurrence. This is why it is so important to keep a close eye on your skin!
It is important for everyone to protect themselves against the sun, but it is particularly essential for children and teens