Fisherman with sun protection and hat

Where Can Melanoma Be Hiding on My Body?

When check­ing your skin for melanoma, per­haps you think of the dark mole on your back or the asym­met­ri­cal freck­le on your chest. By assess­ing sus­pi­cious spots on your skin, you’re tak­ing the first step to melanoma pre­ven­tion and ear­ly detec­tion. Whether you’re using the Ugly Duck­ling method or the ABC’s tech­nique, it is impor­tant that you and your der­ma­tol­o­gist per­form a thor­ough skin exam­i­na­tion, includ­ing places that might not nor­mal­ly come to mind.

List­ed below are places that you may not nor­mal­ly think of on your body where melanoma can devel­op, which will be checked dur­ing a skin exam.

With­in a tattoo

Tat­toos, par­tic­u­lar­ly those that cov­er a large por­tion of skin, may make it dif­fi­cult to eval­u­ate moles under­neath the ink. Addi­tion­al­ly, tat­too ink can seep into your skin mim­ic­k­ing the spread of melanoma.

When a mole changes size, sym­me­try or col­or, it is often the first sign of melanoma. With­out clear vis­i­bil­i­ty of your skin, melanoma detec­tion under­neath a tat­too is a bit trick­i­er for a dermatologist.

On your feet and/​or between your toes

Foot melanoma is rare, but pos­si­ble. Feet get plen­ty of expo­sure to sun­light when you’re walk­ing on the beach, wear­ing flip-flops or sun tan­ning. Remem­ber to apply sun­screen to the tops of your feet and toes before spend­ing time in the sun.

Moles or unusu­al pig­ment­ed skin can devel­op and be hid­den in the crevices of your feet. Dur­ing a skin exam, an in-depth inspec­tion of your feet, includ­ing the space in between your toes, will be per­formed. Check­ing your own feet and toes peri­od­i­cal­ly can help with ear­ly detec­tion of a melanoma.

On your hands and/​or between your fingers

Sim­i­lar to your feet, your hands get just as much if not more expo­sure to sun­light. Just think of all the activ­i­ties where our hands are exposed to the sun for a long peri­od of time such as bicy­cling, fish­ing, golf, yard work, out­side sport­ing events and more.

Always remem­ber to apply and reap­ply sun­screen to your hands and fin­gers when you know you’ll have a long day in the sun.

On your scalp

Your scalp is exposed to the sun and there­fore is also at risk of devel­op­ing melanoma. Dur­ing a skin exam, your der­ma­tol­o­gist will check your scalp for sus­pi­cious spots, even in places oth­er than your hair­line and part.

Under­neath your nails

While not com­mon, it is pos­si­ble to devel­op melanoma under­neath your nails. The main indi­ca­tion of nail melanoma is brown and/​or black col­or­ing on your nailbed.

If you reg­u­lar­ly paint your nails, be sure to check your nailbed when the pol­ish is removed and speak to your der­ma­tol­o­gist about any con­cerns. It is also help­ful to leave your nails unpol­ished when hav­ing a skin exam so that your der­ma­tol­o­gist can check them at your visit.

You can pro­tect your skin from melanoma by reg­u­lar­ly wear­ing sun­screen, using the ABCDE’s of Melanoma or Ugly Duck­ling method for at-home skin checks and sched­ul­ing an annu­al skin exam with your dermatologist.

If you found a sus­pi­cious spot or are due for your full body skin exam, sched­ule an appoint­ment with a der­ma­tol­o­gist near you online or by call­ing your pre­ferred loca­tion.

Annu­al full body skin exams are now cov­ered as a pre­ven­ta­tive exam by most com­mer­cial insur­ance com­pa­nies. Cost varies based on your insur­ance coverage.*

*Medicare and Med­ic­aid are excluded

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  • Ashley Feneran, DO, Wheaton Dermatologist

    I believe that taking the time to listen to a patient’s concerns about their skin and what their goals are for their appointment can lead to better outcomes and set realistic expectations. With that foundation, I aim to bring the latest in dermatology knowledge and technology to effectively manage and educate patients on their skin conditions.