We have all experienced itching. Itchy skin also known as pruritus: an uncomfortable skin sensation that typically feels like something is crawling in or even on your skin. There are many causes of itching which include; rash, dry skin, blisters, or even different toxins that contact your skin. But have you ever wondered if itching could be a sign of skin cancer? Many doctors identify painful or itchy skin lesions as an indication or warning sign of skin cancer. Although not the only sign or symptom, itchy skin is amongst one of the features associated with skin cancer.
When should itchy skin raise a red flag?
Itching per se is not dangerous. As we have mentioned there are numerous reasons for itchy skin. But when should itchy skin be associated with a cancer symptom? Basically, patients complain of multiple lesions that are itchy or painful as well as suspicious looking should raise some confers for non-melanoma skin cancers. According to studies, more than one-third of skin cancer lesions are itchy with fewer than 30 percent being described as painful. Some patients report their lesions are being both painful as well as itchy.
There are three common types of skin cancer: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. The type of skin cancers mostly associated with itching as skin cancer symptom is basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, whereas melanoma lesions were least likely to be associated with any kind of painfulness or itchiness. Even though melanomas are less common than basal cell carcinomas or squamous cell skin cancers, they are however far more dangerous.
Although itchy skin alone does not indicate skin cancer, there are a number of other features associated with the lesions that should be noted as being associated with any kind of skin cancer. There include:
- The emergence of new moles
- Moles that increase in size
- Irregular outlines of moles
- Change in color from brown to black
- A spot that becomes raised over time
- Moles with an irregular, rough or ulcerated surface
- Moles that tend to easily bleed
- Spots that look different from others
- Any ulcer or broken down part of the skin which does not heal within 4 weeks
These signs along with itchy skin are the changes to look out for when checking your skin for skin cancer.
How to examine your skin for signs of skin cancer?
- First, you must make sure that you check your entire body and not only the sun-exposed regions for signs of skin cancer. This includes the soles of the feet, in-between the fingers and toes, and also under the nails.
- Ensure that you examine your skin under good lighting
- Check all your skin surfaces, and you may also get assistance from your partner, family member or friend to examine your skin for any abnormal spots or bumps.