Skin cancers on the feet and toe nails are often painless and go unnoticed. Frequently individuals discover their skin cancer after unrelated symptoms near the affected site, or are picked up during a routine consultation.
Skin cancers of the feet can be related to viruses, exposure to chemicals, chronic inflammation or irritation or inherited traits. For this reason, it's important that the feet are checked regularly by a podiatrist for abnormalities that might indicate evolving skin cancer.
e.g. Melanoma of the nail plate
Learn the ABCD’s of melanoma:
Asymmetry - If the lesion is divided in half, the sides don't match.
Border Irregularity - Borders look scalloped, uneven, or ragged.
Colour Variation - There may be more than one colour, these colours may have different shades of pigment within it.
Diameter – The lesion is wider than a pencil eraser (greater than 6 mm) and widening.
Evolution - The lesion grows in size over time.
To detect other types of skin cancer look for spontaneous ulcers and non-healing sores, bleeds, nodules with rolled or “donut-shaped” edges or scaly areas.
Your podiatrist may take photographs to track and mark changes over time and refer you on to a Dermatologist for further assessment with anything unusual.
What else could it be?
Brown to black discolouration of a finger or toenail can be caused by a number of factors:
- “Longitudinal melanonychia” is dark pigmented colouring due to melanin within the nail plate (like a freckle or a mole). They are usually benign.
- Some discolouration may be also be from a bruise or blood under the nail from trauma, which moves and grows out with the nail.
- Patients with darker skin types may develop multiple brown lines in multiple nails, which commonly occurs naturally with ageing.
Prevention of skin cancer on the feet and ankles is similar to any other body part;
- Limit sun exposure
- Apply appropriate sunscreen when you are outdoors and your feet and ankles are exposed
- Go for regular skin checks
- Be proactive with your health!
If you have any concerns about your foot health PLEASE book in for an appointment with your Podiatrist or Dermatologist today, to take a step in the right direction!
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