Dr. Ellen Marmur on the Ugly Truth About Moles, Acne, Skincare Apps and More

Dr. Ellen MarmurDr. Ellen Marmur is a leading dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon who has made countless contributions to academic dermatological literature, is a regular on The Dr. Oz Show and The Today Show, and has been the principle investigator on over one hundred research studies. We chatted with her at a recent Dove event, a brand she has been working closely with for years, about moles, acne, skincare apps and more.

theFashionSpot: There seems to be a new trend of diagnosing yourself via apps like this one online. Are these safe? Is it better to use an app like this than to do nothing for someone who can’t afford to see a dermatologist?

Dr. Ellen Marmur: An app can only provide a two-dimensional photo of one specific mole, while a dermatologist can get a 3D look at a worrisome spot, as well as how it compares to the other moles on your body. This is called the “ugly duckling” method of diagnosing a dark spot that doesn’t quite fit in—something an app is still unable to do. Ultimately, when used as part of a well-rounded preventative strategy, skin cancer apps do seem to offer real benefits, including the ability to track a particular mole’s evolution or set reminders for routine spot checks with your dermatologist. Most importantly, don’t use these apps as a delay mechanism. Use them as an information-gathering resource and be diligent about your yearly or bi-yearly doctor’s appointments.

tFS: Why is it important to get moles checked?

EM: Skin cancer kills one person every single hour but is treatable when found early.

tFS: What are signs for “alarming moles”?

EM: The ABCDE and “ugly duckling” methods are two ways to identify “alarming moles.” The ABCDE system, which stands for Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter and Evolution, is used to classify melanomas and the “ugly duckling” method of diagnosing is when dermatologists locate a dark spot that doesn’t quite fit in compared to other spots on your body. 

tFS: How often should a healthy person with no history of skin issues go to see their dermatologist?

EM: Yearly or more per their dermatologist after the age of 18.

tFS: Acne is a problem that doesn’t go away with teenage years. Is teen acne different from adult acne?

EM: Teen acne tends to be more variable and hormonal.

tFS: What are some things that adults might be doing that might be making their acne worse without them necessarily being aware?

EM: Poor diet, exercise, sleep and of course — picking!

tFS: So you think diet affects skin. What should we make sure to include?

EM: Yes, a varied diet is key. Make sure to include proteins, nuts, deep greens and citrus every day!

tFS: What are some of your go-to anti-aging products/rituals?

EM: I keep it simple and stick to the same routine, moisturizer and sunscreen!

tFS: What’s one thing you want everyone to know when it comes to maintaining healthy skin?

EM: It doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming to adopt a healthy skincare regimen. With just a few simple steps to follow every day, you will be set up for success. The first step is to use a gentle cleanser, such as Dove Body Wash with NutriumMoisutre, which has mild ingredients and actually replaces skin lipids that are lost during cleansing. After your shower, be sure to apply a moisturizer – the thicker, the better! Lastly, be sure to keep your skin protected with SPF all year long.