If you are planning on taking a tropical vacation away from cold Columbus winter this year, there is one item that should be packed in everyone’s suitcase: sunscreen. While many people are getting better about covering their faces and shoulders, the feet are often a missed spot when it comes to sunscreen application.
Increased exposure to the sun leads to an increased risk of several types of skin cancer including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and the more deadly melanoma. As the tops of your feet are often exposed in warmer weather, whether laying poolside or when out walking in flip flops, it is crucial to protect this area by using sunscreen. It is also extremely important to examine for the development of any new lesions or changes in markings on your feet regularly through self-exams. At the first sign of a noticeable change in the skin of your foot you should contact your podiatrist to catch any potentially malignant lesions early on. The prognosis for a melanoma is related to how deep the tumor is able to grow into the tissues in your foot. The more time a tumor has to grow deeper into your foot, the more deadly it becomes. By catching a tumor early through regular self-exams, you increase your chances of having it treated before it can invade local tissue or metastasize throughout your body.
Like anywhere else on the body, in the foot you want to watch for the “ABCDs” of pigmented, or dark colored lesions including moles and anything darker colored than the normal surrounding skin. “A” stands for asymmetrical shape or pigmentation, “B” stands for borders that are irregular or indistinct, “C” stands for any changes in the lesion, and “D” stands for a diameter of over six millimeters. If you notice any of these features on a skin lesion in your foot it can be an early sign of cancer development and you need to contact your podiatrist who can then do a simple biopsy to check for any abnormal cell growth. It is also important to recognize that while some cancers in the foot may display these “classic” signs to indicate their cancerous nature, skin cancer in the foot can also have a more atypical presentation including being scaly or non-pigmented in which they will be the same or a lighter color than the rest of your normal skin. Cancer of the feet can also appear similar to other typical ailments of the foot. For example, a case of tinea pedis, or “athlete’s foot” that does not resolve with the normal treatment for tinea pedis may require a biopsy to rule out other conditions that can include an atypical skin cancer.
Keep skin safe on all tropical travel this year with sunscreen use and with fair-skinned individuals especially taking further protective measures using clothes or sticking with the shade! Happy travels and take care of your feet no matter where you choose to go!
Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.