Skin mole on a human foot

By Dr. Jaya Rajagopalan, DPM

Have you noticed a new black spot that has popped up on your foot in between the toes or under a nail? Or a growth on the top or bottom of the foot that seems to be growing quickly? What is it?

Well….let’s talk spots! Specifically: colorful ones.

Skin lesions are very common and usually benign. However, our physicians at SWAFAC recommend having all suspicious skin changes on the foot and ankle examined. New black spots are often simple moles. These are caused by a buildup of melanin within deep layers of the skin, causing the color change. However, they could actually be a form of skin cancer known as melanoma, a potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer.

When evaluating your spots, looks for the ABCs.

A – Abnormal shape or asymmetry to the lesion – if the lesion appears to have an odd shape where if you draw a line down the center of the lesion and the two halves don’t match, we recommend being evaluated by a physician.

B – Look for uneven or irregular borders – often times melanomas have uneven, grooved, or scaly feel.

C – Look for uneven color – most healthy moles are one even pigment throughout the lesion, melanoma on the other hand can have a variety of shades. While white, blue, and purple may look pretty in the rainbow or the clothes in your closet, it’s not a good look for your skin.

D – Take a look at the diameter or size – most moles are less than the size of an eraser on a pencil, but melanomas tend to be larger.

E – Look for evolution – if the lesion changes in size, texture, color rapidly, that is definitely a cause to pause. However, if these signs are seen, and the lesion has any bleeding or crusting, that is a worrisome sign that the cancer may be present and spreading.

If you do note any of the ABCs on your foot, make sure you make an immediate appointment with a podiatrist. When concerned for melanoma, initial treatment often begins with surveillance or a possible biopsy of the lesion to determine presence of cancer cells and how far it penetrating. Depending on the level of skin involvement, further treatments may be needed such as total excision, chemotherapy, surgical amputation and regular screening.

If you have history of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, it is important that you have regular skin evaluations with your dermatologist. If you develop any spots that concern you on the foot or ankle, let our team of experts evaluate and treat you. Don’t let spots sneak up on you!

Sunscreen on your feet and avoiding extended sun exposure play an important role in your protection. Make sure you do regular skin screenings on your feet and ankles. During your investigations, if you come across a “spotty“ situation, make an appointment with one of our podiatric physicians immediately by calling 512-447-4122.