June brings the first waves of summer with higher temperatures and longer days. Despite the widespread availability of sunscreen, the Center for Disease Control reports that only 37% of women and 15% of men apply sunscreen to prevent sunburns. As a result, half of Americans have been sunburned in the last 12 months. It is well known that sunburns cause some of the most common cancers including melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. What is not well known is that melanoma can form on the feet—as much as 15% of cutaneous melanoma occurs on the foot and ankle.
How can you protect your feet and ankles and prevent skin cancer?
- Apply a thick layer of at least SPF 15 sunscreen to your feet and ankles before going out in the sun, even on a cloudy day
- Reapply at least every 2 hours
- Wear protective shoes until you have to remove them—water shoes are an excellent choice
- Find shade as often as possible
- Avoid indoor or outdoor tanning
- Check your feet—look for dark spots called nevi and monitor them for changes in size, shape, color or new symptoms such as itching or pain at the site of the lesion and visit a medical professional if you note changes
- Monitor for any dark spots or lines on the toenails or skin overgrowth at the nail borders
- Talk to your podiatrist about any changes to the skin on your feet and ankles
Up to 9,000 Americans die each year from melanoma. These deaths can be reduced or even prevented by sun protection, foot monitoring and open dialogue with health care providers. If you have any concerns, see your podiatrist or regular health care provider for treatment. People with diabetes should see their podiatrist regularly. Fun in the sun can be safe and healthy by following these easy steps. Enjoy your summer!
Please visit our website for more information or call 614-885-3338 (FEET) to schedule an appointment with us at our Columbus, Gahanna or Dublin, OH office.