Skyrmions are spiral structures observed in thin films of certain magnetic materials (Uchida et al 2006 Science 311 359-61). Of the phases allowed by the crystalline symmetries of these materials (Yi et al 2009 Phys. Rev. B 80 054416), only the hexagonally packed phases (SCh) have been observed. Here the melting of the SCh phase is investigated using Monte Carlo simulations. In addition to the usual measure of skyrmion density, chiral charge, a morphological measure is considered. In doing so it is shown that the low-temperature reduction in chiral charge is associated with a change in skyrmion profiles rather than skyrmion destruction. At higher temperatures, the loss of six-fold symmetry is associated with the appearance of elongated skyrmions that disrupt the hexagonal packing. © IOP Publishing and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.