It’s that time of year again! Lots of my Facebook friends are posting pictures with sunburned feet! Seems like no one ever remembers to apply sunscreen on their feet. Sandal season exposes our often lily white feet to way too much sun exposure. So what about a little sun on your feet? Well, even though skin cancer on your feet is rare, it is often nasty and pretty deadly! Protect your feet with sun screen or you may regret it!
Not all brown or pink skin spots are melanomas, and they are rarely in the feet; but when they are, they are usually nasty! Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the cells of the skin that produce pigment or color. It is often called malignant melanoma because it spreads to other parts of the body as it grows beneath the surface of the skin. Unlike many other cancers, it can strike at any age.
Melanoma that occurs in the foot often goes unnoticed during the earliest stage, when it would be more easily treated. By the time melanoma of the foot is diagnosed, it has frequently progressed to an advanced stage and is quite deadly. Early detection is the key to decreasing the death rate from melanoma.
Who is at risk of melanoma? All of us, but certain factors can make you more at risk: fair skin, especially with freckles, blond or red hair, blistering sunburns before the age of 18, and numerous moles. (Sounds like my entire family, especially the red-head!)
What should I look for? Melanoma usually looks like a brown or black spot on the skin or even under or near the toenails, but occasionally it can be red, pink or even white.
D: Diameter, melanoma is usually getting bigger where a mole stays about the same. If you have any of these symptoms or a dark spot under your toenail that wasn’t caused by banging or dropping something on your toe, call or contact the office immediately!
Early detection is critical in melanoma! Critical steps towards early detection and prevention include wearing shoes at the beach (flip flops just aren’t going to do it); use sunscreen on your feet; inspect your feet daily; if you wear toenail polish, take it off at least once a month to inspect the nails; avoid sun exposure during the height of the day (Thank God we wear shoes biking and running in triathlon!).
Remember, if you think any spot on your foot or ankle has the "ABCD’s" of melanoma, call or contact the office immediately for a skin and nail inspection. Early detection is the key to successful treatment!
Why do my feet itch so much? Why does it seem to happen more in the summer time even though I'm not wearing closed in shoes? Why does it itch more some days but not others? All good questions! Let's talk a little about itchy feet.
Many people have itchy feet from simply dry skin. Their skin is drier in the summer because they are either going barefoot or wearing sandals all of the time. They also don't habitually put moisturizer on like they do in the winter time. They also may be predisposed to dry skin from underlying medical problems like diabetes, poor circulation or hypothyroidism. Luckily dry skin has a simple fix. Exfoliate your feet with a combination of a cream or lotion that contains urea or lactic acid coupled with a gentle buffer or sand paper. If you do this a few times a week, it should alleviate all the itching of alligator feet.
But you don't think you simply have dry skin? Perhaps you have a fungal infection. Chronic itchy feet from an underlying tinea pedis (also known as athlete's foot fungus) is extremely common. It is more common in the summer due to increasingly sweaty feet. Fungus loves sweaty feet! Take a look at the skin on the bottom of your feet and in between your toes. Do you have a wet whitish peeling look to the skin in between your toes? This is called maceration. It happens when you toes are wet a lot or have been submerged in water for a long time; but it is also a hallmark of interdigital tinea pedis or fungus in between your toes. Check out the bottom of your feet. Does the skin have little red bumps or scaling skin in the pattern on very small circles? This is also indicative of fungus. The great thing about athlete's foot fungus is that it is easily treated with a topical medication and then decontaminating your shoes. Keep your feet clean and dry and make sure you change your socks if you sweat a lot.
So you don't think its dry skin and really don't have the hallmark signs of fungus? Another common problem is contact dermatitis. You may have contact dermatitis if you have a red, scaly, itchy rash and it is in the pattern of your new sandals or perhaps socks. You can also get contact dermatitis from a new cream or tanning lotion. Any kind of topical allergen can cause a skin reaction. I've even seen dermatitis from an ankle bracelet! Contact dermatitis is usually a new problem and a little detective work will help you find the culprit! Topical treatment with a steroid cream coupled with removing the allergen usually rapidly relieves the itchy rash. Rarely an oral steroid is needed to calm down the itching and alleviate the rash.
Other causes of itchy feet can be any kind of skin problem like eczema or psoriasis. Most people will see a telltale skin rash prior to the itching and are familiar with the symptoms they have in other area of their skin. Treatments vary depending on the underlying skin problem.
So these are the top reasons for itchy feet: chronic dry skin, tinea pedis, or a dermatitis or skin disorder. Itchy feet driving you nuts? If your detective work falls short, and your itching persists; it is time to visit your podiatrist. Skin scrapings or a biopsy can often help find the culprit and eliminate the annoying itch!
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