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Check Your Moles with the ABCDE Method

Enjoying the sun or tanning beds might feel good temporarily, but excessive exposure to UV rays can have serious consequences. Skin cancer is a real risk. That's why dermatologist Douglass Forsha, MD, and our expert team at Jordan Valley Dermatology Center in South Jordan, Utah, offer comprehensive skin cancer screenings and in-office treatments.

Using the ABCDE method 

The ABCDE method is a handy tool dermatologists recommend for monitoring changes in your moles. It's a guide that anyone can use at home to determine whether a mole might be suspicious. It's a simple, easy-to-remember acronym for Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, and Evolving.

A – Asymmetry

Normal moles or freckles are completely symmetrical. If you were to draw a line through the middle, the two sides would match. A mole or spot that is different on one side compared to the other could be an early sign of skin cancer.

B – Border

A benign mole has smooth, even borders, unlike melanomas, which often have irregular edges. The edges of an early melanoma are uneven, scalloped, or notched.

C – Color

Benign moles typically have a uniform color, often a single shade of brown. Another warning sign is having a range of colors. Various shades of brown, tan, black, blue, white, or red may be visible. Melanoma can also turn a mole red, white, or blue.

D – Diameter

Typically, melanomas are bigger than the eraser on a pencil tip (¼ inch or 6mm), but they can occasionally be smaller upon initial detection.

E – Evolving

Any change in size, shape, color, elevation, another trait, or any new symptom, such as bleeding, itching, or crusting, may be a warning sign of melanoma.

Besides the ABCDE method, you can also use the “ugly duckling” sign to identify potential melanomas. This method is based on the concept that melanomas often look or behave differently than other moles on the skin.

The ABCDE method can help you remember what to look for when checking the skin for any signs of melanoma. It’s important to note that while this method helps identify suspicious moles, it’s not foolproof. Some melanomas may not fit into these categories.

The ABCDE method is a guideline, not a diagnosis. If a mole meets one or more of these criteria, it doesn't necessarily mean you have skin cancer. But it's a strong signal that you should book an appointment with a dermatologist to get it checked out. Call Jordan Valley Dermatology if you notice any skin changes that concern you.


Regular self-examinations are an excellent way to catch skin changes early. Try to check your skin at least once a month. Get familiar with the pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on your skin so that you'll notice any changes next time. 

A full-length mirror and a hand mirror can help you check hard-to-see places. And don’t forget to check less obvious areas, like your scalp, between your fingers, and even your feet.

Early detection is key with skin cancer. The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death.

Take control of your skin health. If you notice a suspicious mole or are overdue for a preventive skin cancer screening, don't hesitate. Call our office or book an appointment online today.

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