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You've found a dark spot and you're not sure how seriously to take it. Is it skin cancer? Or is it an age spot, freckle or mole? Follow our tips to help you identify a dark spot and know how to proceed.

Hyperpigmentation, including age spots, freckles, liver spots, and melasma, refers to an area of the skin with more pigment cells than usual. This causes the skin to appear in a darker patch than the skin around it. Hyperpigmentation is caused by UV exposure, fungal infections, hormonal fluctuations, and certain diseases such as celiac or Addison's. [Link Removed] .

A mole is a kind of hyperpigmentation. A collection of pigment cells (called melanocytes) clusters together, darkening on exposure to UV. Some moles are raised, some are flat, and most of them appear in the first two decades of life. It's good to keep an eye on them to monitor changes which might indicate ususual cell activity. Here's how: remember the letters ABCDE (asymmetry, border, color, diameter and elevation).

•Asymmetry – refers to whether the mole is uniform in appearance. If one half does not match the other half, it could signal a problem
•Border – the border of a mole should be smooth and distinct. If it appears ragged, you should have it checked
•Color – If a mole is black or red, it could develop into a melanoma
•Diameter – A mole's diameter shouldn't exceed that of a pencil eraser
•Elevation – note how raised a mole is. While most moles are slightly elevated from the skin, abnormally-raised moles can potentially develop into skin cancer.
For examples of unusual moles, [Link Removed] .

If anything about your moles or hyperpigmentation causes you concern, see your family doctor. If possible, document changes in your moles over time with some simple digital photographs.

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed]
For a limited time, Fabulously 40 members save 5% off all purchases. Code fab40 at checkout.


Pharmagirl, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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