Protect Your Feet From the Sun

With spring officially arriving later this week, many of us will be excited to be able to spend more time strolling around in sandals or flip flops or even walking barefoot on a beach.  While some of us may routinely use sunscreen when going outside, how many of us actually apply sunscreen to our feet?

The foot is susceptible to all forms of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.  Skin cancer is the most common form of all cancers diagnosed in the US, and approximately 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their life.  The most serious form of skin cancer is melanoma, which is responsible for 75% of all skin cancer deaths.

What to Look For
Melanoma is a tumor of melanocytes, which are cells responsible for the color of our skin.  Remember the ABCDE warning signs of melanoma.

Asymmetry – the lesion is asymmetric; one half is different from the other half
Border – the borders are irregular and jagged
Color – the color is uneven with different shades of brown and/or black
Diameter – the diameter of the lesion is greater than 5 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser)
Evolving – the lesion evolves in appearance over time
Check your skin regularly including the bottom of your feet and in between your toes for any abnormal looking moles or freckles.  Early detection is critical for the treatment of skin cancer.  If you notice any changing areas of pigmentation that display any of these warning signs, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Prevention
Spring and summer are a great time to enjoy the outdoors as long as you take a few steps to protect your skin.  Prevention of skin cancer requires minimizing exposure to ultraviolet rays.  Avoid sun exposure during the peak daytime hours.  Wear sun-protective clothing.  And of course, apply sunscreen to your exposed skin including your feet.

Statistics from www.cdc.gov.

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