Freckle or Skin Cancer? Do You Know the Difference?

Many of us have freckles, moles or birthmarks. Most have a combination of all three. It is easy to dismiss your brown spots as your natural complexion and common for people to assume they’d know skin cancer when they saw it. Sadly, skin cancer can look similar to freckles, moles and even eczema. Instead of risking the cost of missing the difference, let a skin care expert perform a full body check on you each year.

The Appearance of Skin Cancer

While skin cancer itself can be a scary experience, the appearance of skin cancer typically isn’t. In fact, skin cancer can take on many shapes, sizes and colors. It can also appear on any area of your body, including the places you don’t often see in the mirror.  Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, and it is known for its darker color. However, 1 in 5 Americans develop basal cell skin cancer, or squamous cell skin cancer, which commonly appears as a scaly, non-healing sore. While not as serious, it is equally important to catch these skin cancers early.

The ABCDE’s of Skin Cancer

Nearly everyone has freckles, moles and sunspots. So when is it time to worry? You can use this simple guide to help you determine whether to get a certain mole or freckle checked out:

  • Asymmetry
  • Border irregularity
  • Color irregularity or change
  • Diameter is larger than six millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser)
  • Elevation

The above guide should never replace a skin exam from a dermatologist, but it can be a cue to get evaluated sooner rather than later. Remember that, like many cancers, early detection is critical when it comes to skin cancer. A dermatologist not only has the knowledge and training to detect suspicious skin lesions, but they are also equipped with the modern technology it takes to diagnose skin cancer at the earliest and most treatable stage.

If you notice a change in the way your freckle or mole looks or feels, make an appointment to see us. Instead of debating whether your scaly skin patch is eczema or cancer, let an expert give you an accurate diagnosis. Olansky Dermatology Associates performs professional skin exams for patients of all ages. It is a painless and quick visit that could save your life!

Posted on behalf of Olansky Dermatology & Aesthetics