When it comes to staying safe against skin cancer, it is well known that using sunblock, staying in the shade, covering up and keeping out of the sun during the hottest part of the day is essential. We also know to perform regular skin checks to catch any symptoms of skin cancer and melanoma early enough to treat them effectively. However, there is one area of the body that is almost always overlooked. How often do you think, is there a mole on my foot?
We neglect to use sunblock on the soles of our feet and assume that they see very little sunshine. Most of us will even forget to check the soles of our feet during skin checks. So can you get skin cancer on the soles of your feet? What are the risks and what can we do to stay safe?
Overlooked signs of skin cancer
Recent research shows that an alarming 60% of basal cell carcinoma growths were locally reported on the soles of the feet or in the toenails. These results were reported by Chang Wen-chen (張文震), a dermatologist at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Linkou (林口). He has seen numerous cases where patients have overlooked the early signs of skin cancer, only to seek treatment when they are in the advanced stages of basal cell carcinoma – often at this stage metastasis has spread to other organs in the body. Further research in this area might be needed.
Checking for signs
Although checking for signs of skin cancer on the soles of your feet is not the easiest task, it is absolutely essential that you add it to your skin check routine. It is advisable to have a skin check buddy who can help you to monitor all of those hard to see areas, including the soles of the feet. As well as looking for new moles and unusual patches of colour, your skin check buddy should also keep an eye out for asymmetry and uneven borders in moles, as well as moles that are large, contain a variety of colours and are elevated or raised.
Sun and our feet
We will expose the soles of our feet to the sun when sun bathing or swimming, so it is really important to be aware of the skin on this area. If you are sunbathing or sitting out in direct sunlight with your feet up, then you really must protect the skin on your feet, just like every other part of your body. As the soles of the feet as rarely exposed to the sun, the skin there is more likely to burn. Applying sunblock could make your feet slippery, which could prove to be dangerous if you are walking on tiled floors. You may want to use a pair of foam or absorbent flipflops in occasions like this.
Ideally, knowing the dangers of skin cancer and melanoma, you will not be spending time sunbathing or lounging about in the sun’s rays. However, if you are a sun worshipper, please ensure that every inch of exposed skin is covered in sunblock that is applied 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every two hours or after contact with water.
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