If you have a new mole or “spot” between your toes, do NOT blow it off as possible melanoma just because no sun gets between your toes.
“Yes, melanomas can grow in areas that typically do not receive much sunlight,” says Dr. Janet Prystowsky, board certified dermatologist in New York, NY, with 30+ years’ experience.
“This is because the effects of sun damage aren’t always localized. A sunburn on your back, for example, increases your risk of melanoma in general, not necessarily only on your back.”
So if you received a blistering sunburn as a child, this means your risk of melanoma anywhere on your body has been increased.
However, you need not suffer from any sunburns in order to get melanoma. A sunburn-free life does not get you off the hook from this skin cancer.
Melanoma can grow on the skin – ANYWHERE. This cancer arises from melanocytes—the cells that produce pigment in the skin.
Where there is skin or a mole, there can arise melanoma, with only about one-third of these tumors arising in pre-existing moles.
This means your monthly self-exams should include all areas of skin – including between the toes, and including any mole that you’ve had between your toes since the day you could remember.
Checking for Melanoma Between the Toes
It certainly helps if you’re flexible. You can prop a foot up on the sink, spread your toes and examine for any new moles, spots or bumps, or any changes in a pre-existing mole, even if it’s tiny.
Incorporate the use of a mirror to check between your toes from behind, as well as behind your toes and the soles of your feet.
Another reason why melanoma can appear in areas that have received very little sun exposure is because there are other factors in the development of this disease: factors not completely understood by researchers.
This is why not all sunburned white people or pale skinned redheads get melanoma, and why some patients have had no sunburns ever and/or have dark skin, and/or dark hair and brown eyes.
Before you go outside for extended periods in sandals or flip-flops, put sunscreen all over your feet and between your toes.
And foot exams for melanoma are yet one more incentive to improve your flexibility – so you can get up as close as possible to view your skin and moles.