There are so many fun activities to do in the summer, but spending too much time in the sun without adequate protection can put you at risk for painful sunburns or even skin cancer. Skin cancer is a general term for three distinct cancers that can appear on the foot: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. We wanted to help you be more aware of the different kinds of skin cancer and how it can affect your feet. 

Basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, appears on sun-exposed areas as a smooth, raised bump or a sore that is not healing. It rarely metastasizes or causes death because it grows slowly and rarely spreads. It is easily treated with surgery or radiation.

Squamous cell carcinoma appears on sun-exposed areas as thick, red, scaly patches or as a bleeding ulcer. It is more serious than basal cell carcinoma because in some instances, it may spread to other areas of the body.

Melanoma, the most serious skin cancer, begins in the cells of the skin that produce pigmentation (coloration) and spreads to other areas of the body as it grows beneath the surface of the skin. It is often also called malignant melanoma, because it spreads to other areas of the body as it grows beneath the skin. People of all ages can get melanoma, even while they are young. Melanoma can happen anywhere on the body, even on areas that have not been exposed to the sun.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that is caused by too much exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds. While anyone can get melanoma, there are a few things that put you at higher risk:

  • Blonde or Red Hair, Fair Skin, or Skin that Freckles Easily
  • Getting a sunburn that produces blisters when under the age of 18
  • Having many moles, especially that appeared at a young age

Melanoma can be found on any area of the foot or ankle, even under a toenail. Often, it appears as an abnormal mole or small area of pigmented skin. A huge problem with melanoma on the foot or ankle is it is often unnoticed in the early stages when it is more easily treated. 


  • Spots on the skin that are brown, black, blue, red, or white. However, remember that not all areas of discoloration are melanoma.
  • Asymmetry- Half of the spot is different in shape than the other
  • Border- Edge of the spot is ragged, notched, or blurred
  • Color- A mix of colors rather than one solid color
  • Diameter- Moles remain small, melanoma grows. A spot larger than a pencil eraser needs to be examined by your Podiatrist.
  • Discolored Toenails- Unless the discoloration was caused by a trauma, a discolored toenail needs to be seen by your Podiatrist.


  • Cover up your feet with water shoes or shoes and socks when in the sun.
  • Inspect all areas of your feet daily including the soles, toenails, and in between toes.
  • Use adequate sunscreen on exposed skin including the tops and bottoms of your feet.
  • Avoid being in the sun during the peak hours of 10 a.m – 4 p.m., especially for kids. The sun is especially damaging to children and teens.
  • Wear sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to limit exposure.

Early detection is vital with skin cancer. If you notice any of these signs or changes on your feet or ankles, contact Dr. Kylin Kovac or Dr. Jed Erickson for an evaluation. Dr. Kovac & Dr. Erickson are Doctors of Podiatry Medicine and Foot and Ankle Surgeons. They have the education and experience to correctly diagnose foot and ankle problems, and can provide the individualized treatment plan that will be the best for you.

Some content provided by The ACFAS.