By | November 27th, 2015|

What is a Melanoma?

A melanoma is a potentially life threatening cancerous skin lesion that begins in skin cells in the uppermost layer of the skin. These cells are called melanocytes and are responsible for producing melanin, the pigment that gives our skin colour. A melanoma can become malignant where it spreads to other parts of the body including the organs.

Who can get a Melanoma?

Melanomas can strike people of all ages, genders and ethnicities. However, people with the following risk factors may be more susceptible:

  • Fair skin that freckles or burns in the sun easily or fair or red hair.
  • A high number of moles, more than 10 on your arms or more than 200 on your body in total.
  • A history of sunburn and blistering, particularly in childhood and adolescence.
  • Exposure to UV rays on a daily basis, by for example working outdoors.
  • A family history of melanoma.

Tell me about Melanomas on the Feet?

Often when checking for melanomas, people neglect their feet. Surprisingly, between 15-30% of all melanomas occur on the foot or ankle.  Melanomas can even occur on skin that is not normally exposed to the sun, such as the soles of the feet, between toes or underneath the toenails.

What should I be looking for?

  • Change in shape or colour
  • Increase in size
  • Bleeding or itching
  • Irregular border
  • New mole or freckle

How can I reduce my risk of Melanoma?

  • Avoid direct sunlight, especially between 10am and 3pm when the UV levels are at their highest.
  • Wear protective clothing and don’t forget about your feet.
  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ or even better 50+.
  • Have your skin checked on an annual basis by a specialist.

Talk to your podiatrist if you are concerned about a skin lesion on your feet or lower legs. They will be able to give you advice and point you in the right direction.