Here at Texas Foot Specialists we didn’t want to let go of the month of May without recognizing Melanoma Awareness Month. Over 87,000 people in the United States are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma in 2017. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, although it is highly treatable if caught in the earliest stages. The problem with melanoma on the skin of your feet is that it is often not diagnosed in the early stages because people are not in the habit of checking their feet as regularly as they do other parts of their body. Make examining your feet and those of your family members part of your monthly health care regimen. Be sure to check between the toes too. If you do find a spot or mole, use the ABCDE guide to identify potentially cancerous growths:
A=Asymmetrical—is the mole uneven or asymmetrical in shape?
B=Border—does it have an irregular border?
C=Color—does the spot have multiple colors?
D=Diameter—is the diameter larger than a pencil eraser?
E=Evolving—is the growth changing, getting bigger or thicker?
Preventing Skin Damage
In addition to being vigilant about checking the skin on your feet (and the rest of your body) there are a number of ways to greatly reduce your risk of melanoma and other skin cancers:
- Remember, a tan is a sign of skin damage. Your body produces the pigment melanin as a defensive response to UV rays. So you can protect your skin by applying a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30. Look for one that is water-resistant and protects against UVA and UVB rays. Apply daily when you will be out in the sun and re-apply after swimming. Don’t forget to put sunscreen on the bottom of your feet too if they will be exposed to the sun.
- Do not use tanning beds. These have been shown to increase the risk of melanoma by 75%.
- Stay out of the sun during the peak hours of 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
- Wear hats, sun glasses and protective clothing when you are outside in the sun.
If you have a question about something you find on the skin of your feet, our podiatrists, Dr. Bruce Miller and Dr. Gregory Mangum will most definitely want to see it. Contact us for an appointment at our Pasadena, Houston or Sugarland office as soon as possible to get it checked out.