If you notice anything unusual on your skin that doesn’t go away in four weeks, show it to your doctor. This could include:

  • A spot or sore that does not heal.
  • A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, scab, crust or bleed.
  • Areas where the skin has broken down, become an ulcer and does not heal.

It’s also important to check your moles on a regular basis. You should see your GP if you notice a mole that is:

  • Getting bigger.
  • Changing shape, particularly getting an irregular edge.
  • Changing colour – getting darker, becoming patchy or multi shaded.
  • Loss of symmetry - the two halves of your mole do not look the same.
  • Itchy or painful (for over 4 weeks).
  • Bleeding or becoming crusty (for over 4 weeks).
  • New and looks inflamed.

It might help to take a photograph of anything unusual so you can check for any changes over time. If you have an IPhone you may find the free 'Embarrassing Bodies – My Mole Checker' app a helpful tool.

Remember, there are many other skin conditions, so if you or someone you know has one of the symptoms above, it doesn’t mean it's cancer – it could be something else that needs treatment. Either way, the earlier you see your GP, the better.

Worried about a friend or family member?

If you know anyone with any of these symptoms, encourage them to visit their doctor. It’s probably nothing serious but it could be a sign of something that needs treatment.



  • 1.

    There are two types of skin cancer: malignant melanoma, which is less common but more serious; and non-melanoma skin cancer, which is very common but not so serious.
  • 2.

    Incidence rates of skin cancer have increased by 15% over the last 10 years.

  • 3.

    In 2016, 1,383 cases of malignant melanoma were diagnosed in Scotland.
  • 4.

    Sun beds increase the risk of skin cancer by 75%.

For more information about skin cancer visit NHS Inform. You could also watch this short video - it will help you to know what to look out for.