Off to the Beach? Your Feet Need Sunscreen, Too!

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Can skin cancer affect my feet?


While a large portion of the population has finally become aware that applying sunscreen is a necessary part of protecting one’s health, very few people are aware that the feet are as susceptible to skin cancer as other parts of the body. The facts are undeniable and frightening — The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) warns that the feet are not only susceptible to basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer, but are especially prone to melanoma, the most potentially deadly of skin malignancies.

Skin cancer on the feet is particularly dangerous because it can easily remain undetected, appearing as a mole or freckle. And let’s face it — most people don’t examine their feet as closely as they do their hands and faces.

Other Areas We Tend to Neglect When It Comes to Sun Protection

You should be aware that other parts of the body tend to be neglected when it comes to applying sunscreen, including:

  • Ears
  • Scalp
  • Eyelids
  • Armpit Skin
  • Skin under straps
  • Tops of the feet
  • Lips(especially the lower lip where skin cancer is 12 times more likely)
  • Backs of knees
  • Backs of hands

It is recommended that you apply sunscreen while naked to make sure you catch all areas of the body since the sun can burn your skin right through the fabric of a bathing suit or other attire. Because sunscreen can easily irritate the eyes, it is best to use an eye cream that has a high SPF on the eyelids. Also, because we tend to wash our hands so frequently, it is a good idea to reapply sunscreen to the hands after each washing if you’re going to be in the sun.

How to Protect Your Feet from the Sun This Summer

In addition to making sure that you apply sunscreen to your feet as well as other parts of your body, the ACFAS suggests that you take the following precautions:

  • Examine your feet and toes on a regular basis for any abnormality of the skin. A mole or freckle that is unfamiliar, even if it appears under your toenails or on the bottom of the foot, should be checked by your podiatrist or dermatologist.
  • Be particularly suspicious of moles or freckles that alter their appearance, enlarging or changing shape. Don’t spend time worrying about possible cancer — get the suspicious lesion checked by your podiatrist as soon as possible.
  • Have regular podiatric check-ups so that your doctor can keep track of any changes on the skin of your feet, on and under your toenails, and between your toes. There is no substitute for a professional podiatric exam.

Early Detection of Skin Cancer Leads to the Best Prognosis

As we look forward to the summer pleasures of sun and sand and surf, no one wants to think of having cancer, but the best protection against this disease is preventing its occurrence and the next best is detecting it at its earliest possible stage. Remember to consider all the skin on your body when you’re trying to maintain your healthy lifestyle, especially your feet. Taking all possible precautions will really make your summer carefree.

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