Mole matters: Leading expert Paul Banwell addresses our FAQs

Everyone has moles – areas where the cells have made more skin pigment than usual – on their skin.

Whilst they are generally harmless, occasionally they can become cancerous and it is important to keep our eye on them, especially on those hot sunny days.

With summer fast approaching and the holiday calendar coming out, we ask Paul Banwell, Head of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Unit, to answer the most frequently asked questions when it comes to mole matters.


1. How do I know if a mole is suspect?

Look out for new or existing moles that are darkly pigmented, change in colour and/or size, have an irregular outline and itch, bleed or crust.

If you are unsure or concerned that you may have one or more of these symptoms, visit your GP. They will examine your skin and be able to refer you if necessary.

2. Should we get our moles checked before jetting off on sunshine holidays?

This is a sensible precaution, especially if you have lots of moles or if you are concerned in any way.

More often than not, when I see a patient to check their moles, I can give reassurance and general advice on what to look out for. If in doubt, please be sure to get them checked.

Remember to cover up in the mid-day sun, wear a hat and definitely wear good sunglasses.

3. Should we play it safe in the sun by covering up moles?

In actual fact, this is not required. Although if you have had a recent operation and have a new scar then, yes, this should be covered.

The most important thing is to use good quality SPF and apply regularly throughout the day. If you are a water-sports fanatic then use a waterproof cream.

The critical point on holiday is do NOT get sunburned! This really does increase your susceptibility later on in life.

4. What does mole removal entail?

Usually moles can be removed easily and quickly under a local anaesthetic (with you awake). This will leave a small scar, but with massage, will settle.

It is important to take things easy for a couple of days afterwards but recovery is generally rapid.

To book in for a comprehensive mole check with Paul, contact his secretary on 0845 2600261