When to get skin moles or a pigmented lesion checked by your dermatologist
Pigmented skin lesions are always a concern. Often we don’t know what the dark lump is, especially if it was not always there. The big fear is a malignant melanoma. Realistically, most pigmented skin lesions are benign, but it is best not to delay in seeing a Dermatologist if you have a new pigmented lesion.
If you have a pigmented skin lesion, this could be benign or malignant.
Common benign lesions include a dermal naevus, which looks skin coloured, pink or slightly darker, or can appear as a mole if you have darker skin.
Occasionally, a pigmented skin lesion can be a melanoma. Melanomas come in a variety of colours including tan, dark brown, black, blue, red, occasionally light grey or even amelanotic; many have no colour whatsoever.
If you have a brown or a pink skin lesion that you are worried about, you should see a dermatologist as it may well be a malignant melanoma. There are several factors to look out for:
If any of your pigmented lesions show those features, then this is highly suspicious for malignant melanoma.
If you have a pigmented lesion that is larger than 7 mm or is inflamed or oozing or associated with a change in sensation, then that is also suspicious for skin cancer melanoma and requires prompt and urgent referral to a consultant dermatologist.
NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, recommends that the dermatologist takes photographs with a marker or ruler and check with a dermatoscope and look for asymmetry, border irregularity, colour irregularity, diameter greater than 7 mm and whether the lesion is evolving. However, if all these features are not present, the dermatologist still cannot exclude a melanoma and will do a biopsy.
If the pigmented skin lesion is on the eyelids, you should decide whether it is best to see the Oculoplastic Surgeon or Dermatologist, your General Practitioner will advise you, or the Patient Coordinator here at Clinica London, Jenny Burrows
Dr Jennifer Crawley is the Specialist in dermatology at Clinica London and does mole checks and biopsies for suspicious melanocytic skin lesions.