How To Recognize Skin Cancer on the Feet

It's possible to get skin cancer on your feet - just like the rest of your body. Even the soles of your feet are vulnerable to dangerous skin cancers.

Skin cancers are most often caused by cumulative ultraviolet (UV) damage from sun exposure. But other factors can contribute too including:

  • Environmental factors like chemical burns and car exhaust and other pollutants can cause skin cancer even with no sun exposure.
  • Genetics plays a part. For example, if you have fair skin and light eyes and hair, you will burn more easily from the sun because you have less melanin, a pigment that helps absorb UV radiation.
  • Viral infections like human papillomavirus (HPV) or HIV or any immune deficiency can reduce your body's ability to handle damaged skin cells and to defend against malignancies.

Watch for Signs of Deadly Melanoma

Melanoma is a kind of skin cancer that can be fatal. One type of melanoma is acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM) that is not caused by exposure to the sun. Although uncommon, this cancerous growth can appear on the soles of the feet as well as under the nails and on the palms.

While some skin cancers grow horizontally across the skin's surface, melanoma digs deeper into the skin and eventually the lymph system and blood vessels which allow it to spread further.

Melanoma is known as the "Great Masquerader" because it can take on many different appearances. This skin cancer can begin as a small, brown-black spot or bump, but other times it appears pink or red. What you think is a common mole may be cancer if it has uneven borders, changes color or is greater than about a quarter of an inch across. Melanomas can even look like ulcers, blood blisters, bruises, plantar warts, ingrown nails or a splinter.

You Can Reduce Your Risk of Skin Cancer

Early detection can save your life, so here at Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute we urge you to inspect your skin frequently for signs of anything unusual, including on the soles of your feet.

Protect your skin from damaging UV rays by:

  • Using a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher whenever you are out of doors - including your feet and toes.
  • Reapplying after sweating or swimming.
  • Covering up with tightly woven clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and UV-absorbent sunglasses.
  • Staying out of the sun when it's most intense, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

We Can Help With All Types of Foot and Ankle Problems and Injuries

Dr. John Schilero, DPM, board certified podiatrist at Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute has the right experience in diagnosing and treating all types of foot and ankle problems, injuries and sports injuries. Please call us at 561-694-7776 EXT. 41 to make an appointment at one of our four offices conveniently located in Palm Beach County. You can also request an appointment at the website.