Many people assume that a mole on a toe is more likely to become melanoma, or, already is this deadly skin cancer.
“Moles on toes (and fingers) can be more concerning but aren’t usually melanomas,” says Dr. Joel Schlessinger, MD, a board certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon with a private practice in Omaha, NE.
“On the other hand (no pun intended!), they do tend to change more commonly and can turn into melanomas if they are exposed to the sun or tanning beds frequently.
“As a dermatologist, I always recommend my patients show me their hands and feet during a mole exam, as they can often be overlooked, especially when moles are between the webs of the toes.
“Anecdotally, I have seen a melanoma on the toe of an 18-year-old! It was caught when it was small enough that it wasn’t necessary to amputate, but if it had gotten much larger my patient would have lost his toe.”
What is meant by “they tend to change more commonly?”
“Moles on toes and fingers tend to be a little more likely to change from good to bad over time, so there is good reason to be concerned if one of these moles starts to turn darker over time,” says Dr. Schlessinger.
“Even those moles that are relatively ‘normal’ looking may be worthwhile showing to a dermatologist.
“One of the reasons I suspect that moles on the hands and feet are bad actors is that people simply don’t examine these areas.
“For this reason, I always examine these areas when my patients come in for mole exams, even if my patients doubt there are any issues.
“It is shocking how many we find when we take the time to look!
“It is important to make sure your dermatologist takes the time to examine all areas of the body, including your hands and feet.
“Take off your shoes and socks if you are in the dermatologist’s office for a mole check.
“Also, make sure you lift up your feet so the dermatologist can examine them, and wiggle your toes so they reveal moles between the toes, if present.”