One question that routinely comes up in our office is “what is the best way to keep track of my moles?”. This is a very important question as finding the changing mole early is of the utmost importance in diagnosing and successfully treating melanoma. Prior to widespread digital cameras and the nearly universal presence of home computers, dermatologists had to “mole map” and take physical photographs of every body area and every mole. Now, with a digital camera, computer, and a simple eyebrow pencil, the power to watch and follow your moles are in your own hands. Here’s how you can do it:
1. Take your eyebrow pencil and divide your back into four quadrants. Label each quadrant with your initials, date, and quadrant (left upper back or LUB, etc).
2. Stand against a wall with even surrounding lighting. Take a picture of each quadrant with NO background (wall, plants, pictures) and only the skin.
3. You can take closeups of certain moles that you want to follow more closely over time. Again, label the mole you want to follow and/or draw an arrow to it. Take a clearly focused picture.
4. Put the pictures in a specific “Moles” your harddrive. Label each picture with your last name, date, and location.
Continue to do your monthly self skin exams. If you note any changes in any of your moles, you can now go back to your computer and reference that exact mole back on the date of your pictures. Even better, take a picture of the mole as you see it now, put it on your computer, pull up previously saved pictures, and view them side-by-side. If you see any changes, or if you are still unsure, print out your pictures, bring them in on a thumb-drive, or send them to your email, so we can look at them together in our office. Still keep your yearly dermatology exam appointments! Looking forward to seeing you in the office soon! Have a great Thanksgiving and a wonderful November!