Are Freckles, Sun Spots, and Moles a Sign of Skin Cancer?

Skin Care

Freckles, sun spots, and moles have been viewed as marks of beauty for decades. Whether it’s the glamorous mole on the face à la Marilyn Monroe or the more recent “Meghan Markle Effect” trend on freckles, most people embrace these skin marks without second thoughts. Unfortunately, any type of hyperpigmentation can imply skin cancer in its very early stages, no matter how they enhance your beauty. To understand your skin cancer risks and how to assess whether your freckles, sun spots, and moles are harmless, keep reading.

What are Freckles, Sunspots, and Moles?

Are freckles, sunspots, and moles kinda the same? Well, not quite. Freckles tend to develop very early on in childhood as they are influenced by genetics. Through genetics, you can also be more prone to moles, as this type of skin mark is caused by skin cells growing together. Yet, moles can also be triggered through sun exposure, similar to sunspots.

Freckles, sunspots, and moles are, for the most part, harmless. However, they still provide a risk factor for skin cancer. When your skin is exposed to the sun, it produces melanin to protect itself against UV radiation. Within the melanin can be found Melanocytes, which are responsible for your skin tan. But here’s the thing: new freckles and sun spots can appear through Melanocytes getting darker, and when it comes to moles, those same melanocytes instead grow in clumps.

How to spot Cancerous Freckles, Sunspots, and Moles?

While most people are familiar with the signs of risky moles thanks to the ABCDE method, not all skin cancer will be easily detectable to an untrained eye. Data shows that two in three adults will develop skin cancer before they turn 70 and as such, it is important to not dismiss any skin marks, no matter what they look like.

Freckles and sunspots are common among those with a fair or light complexion. When exposed to the sun, this skin tone typically doesn’t produce enough melanin to protect against UV rays and as such, increases the risk of skin cancer. So, what should you look for with freckles, sunspots, and moles?

Freckles 

  • Size: Less than 2mm
  • Colour: Red or Brown
  • What to watch for: Growth in size and change of colour

Sunspots

  • Size: More than 2mm
  • Colour: Brown or Black
  • What to watch for: Growth in size and change of colour

Moles

  • Size: Less than 6mm
  • Colour: Brown or Black
  • What to watch for: change in colour, shape, size, sensations

When should I get my skin checked?

While most skin marks are harmless, make sure to assess them regularly because, after all, no one wants freckles, sunspots, or moles to turn into a bigger problem. If you’re unsure of what you’re looking at, get your skin checked.

Your skin types, genetics, and lifestyle play an important role in your risk level for skin cancer. For example, having more than 11 moles increases your risk by 1.6 times, just as fair skin or daily sun exposure can influence the development of cancerous cells.

At MoleMap Bairnsdale, we provide comprehensive screening, surveillance, and diagnosis, leaving no spot unchecked.

Book your skin check today.

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