Expectant Moms Need to Keep an Eye Out for Melanoma While Pregnant

There are plenty of things to worry about while pregnant. But if you can tackle which foods to eat, which over-the-counter painkillers are safe, and which cozy maternity yoga pants to buy, you can squeeze one more thing into your 40 weeks: skin cancer screening.

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can occur at any time, including during pregnancy. While it is normal to experience skin changes while pregnant, there are some that should never go unchecked. Many moms-to-be complain about slightly dark spots developing on their face, and some develop the linea nigra (the dark line that runs up the middle of the belly), but noticeable changes to moles may be a cause for concern.

When malignant cells have time to multiply, there is a risk that they can spread throughout the body, and even cross the placenta, making both mom and baby sick. Early detection is key, as many suspicious moles can be removed quickly in a dermatologist’s office.

According to Baby Center,

Dr. [Janet] Prytowsky recommends you see a dermatologist before getting pregnant if you’re at high risk for melanoma. Risk factors include a history of bad sunburns, a family history of melanoma, or a past incidence of melanoma. People with a lot of irregular looking moles are also at high risk, she says.

Whether you’re at high risk or not, look out for unusual changes to moles on your body, Dr. Prytowsky says. Changes to a mole that warrant a checkup include:

Asymmetry: A mole that’s lopsided or has a strange shape, such as a flame pattern veering off to the side.

Border irregularity: If the mole’s borders are blurred, or jagged like the coast of Maine.

Color irregularity: Multiple colors such as blue, green, brown and black inside the same mole.

Diameter: A mole that’s bigger than the eraser on a pencil, about 6 millimeters.

Evolving: If the mole experiences any other strange changes such as itchiness, bleeding, or a change in color.

And don’t forget: prevention is a must! Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! You’ll be slathering it on your child for years to come, so you might as well get into the habit now with your own precious skin.