Melanomas of the feet and the nails are often difficult to diagnose which leads to a delayed diagnosis. Due to their life threatening nature it is important for a good prognosis that melanomas are detected early and treated straight away. More often than not, lesions are found on the soles of the feet and within the nails. Quite often, spots on the bottom of the feet are just suspected to be freckles while those on the nails are often thought to be fungal infection or trauma to the nails, which is why it is so important to make sure that a diagnosis is made early.
A simple acronym that is used to assist in identifying a suspicious lesion includes:
A- Asymmetry: half of the lesion is not identical to the other half
B- Border: lesion appears irregular, ragged or indistinct
C- Colour: more than one colour is present within the suspected area
D- Diameter: greater than 6mm
E- Evaluation: any change in the lesion including the size, shape and colour over a period of time
More often than not the moles and freckles on the soles of your feet may develop into a melanoma. It is import to make sure that you are checking the soles of your feet or getting a family member to check the soles of your feet to ensure that there has not been a change to an existing mole and that there is no new development in a newly pigmented and unusual growth on the skin.
Quite often the big toenail is most affected compared to the other nails. To begin with you may notice a dark pigmented band which runs vertical across the entire nail. Over a period of time the appearance may change with these following features:
- Band becomes wider especially around the cuticle end
- Irregular in colour
- Involved the nail fold
- May develop nodule, ulceration and bleeding
- Cracking and thinning of the nail plate
It is important to understand that not all melanomas develop as a result of being exposed to sunlight, other factors may include a history of sunburn, living closer to the equator, having a history of moles previously, a family history of melanomas and a weakened immune system.
To ensure that you reduce your risk of developing a melanoma in the skin and nails it is important to take the appropriate protection in the form of sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, avoiding the sun when it’s at its strongest and making sure that you are checking your skin regularly by yourself or a health professional.
If you have any concerns, please call us on 03 8645 9800 to book in with one of our skilled Podiatrists for an assessment or