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Decoding the Itch: Understanding Melanoma and Its Symptoms

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When you notice an itch on your skin, it's not necessarily a cause for panic, but it is a signal worth heeding. Itchy skin doesn't automatically translate to a diagnosis of skin cancer or melanoma. Most skin growths and moles are harmless, and the itch could be attributed to various other factors. However, it's crucial to recognise that an itch can also be a warning sign, potentially indicating the presence of melanoma or other types of skin cancer that require timely attention.

Doctor inspecting back mole

Exploring Melanoma and Its Origins:

Melanoma stands as the most severe form of skin cancer, originating in the skin's pigment-producing cells known as melanocytes. This tumour can manifest without warning or develop near an existing mole or skin lesion. These lesions can appear as dark brown, black, or multicoloured spots with patches of red, white, blue, or even purple. Some may become crusty, raised, or prone to bleeding.

Melanoma doesn't discriminate; it can affect anyone, anywhere on the body. The primary culprit behind melanoma is overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds. Factors that increase melanoma risk include fair skin, light hair and eyes, a family history of melanoma, numerous existing moles, or a prior melanoma diagnosis.

Addressing the Itch Factor:

While the skin's constant exposure to the sun's harsh UV light can lead to itching due to the body's immune response to damage and inflammation, it's essential to understand that not all melanomas cause itching. Some may exhibit no itching symptoms, while others might experience tingling in their early stages.

Itchiness is more commonly associated with other types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. While these non-melanoma skin cancers are typically not life-threatening, early treatment is necessary to prevent further tissue damage.

Types of Melanoma Associated with Itchy Skin:

Though itching can serve as a warning sign for melanoma, it is more frequently linked to keratinocyte skin cancers. Here are some melanoma subtypes that may cause itchy skin:

1. Superficial spreading melanoma: This type, which accounts for the majority of melanomas, evolves slowly, often originating as a black or brown spot or an existing mole that undergoes changes in colour, size, or shape.

2. Nodular melanoma: Typically found in individuals over 65, these melanomas develop rapidly as raised, bumpy growths on the skin that can become crusty and bleed.

3. Lentigo maligna: These melanomas start as smooth, flat brown spots, usually on the face, head, neck, ears, arms, or legs, and early treatment is essential to prevent deeper penetration.

4. Amelanotic melanoma: This is a serious form of melanoma that lacks melanin in its cells and is often red or skin-coloured.

woman examinating her face in the mirror

Taking Action if You Suspect Melanoma:

If you notice any skin lesions, moles, or growths that are beginning to itch, it's crucial to take prompt action. Regular self-examinations can help detect signs of skin cancer early, increasing the likelihood of successful treatment.

Remember to check your entire body, not just the sun-exposed areas. If you notice any abnormal sores, spots, or lesions, seek professional medical attention. A biopsy and examination by a healthcare provider can determine the necessary treatments.

Considering Other Possible Causes of Itchy Skin:

Itchy skin can result from various skin conditions and is not exclusive to melanoma or other skin cancers. These other reasons for itchy skin may include eczema, allergic reactions, insect bites, dry skin, dermatitis-related irritations, liver or kidney disease, diabetes, other forms of cancer, iron deficiencies, sunburn, and fungal infections.

Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma:

While itchy skin can be a potential sign of melanoma, it is essential to be vigilant for other identifiable signs in conjunction with itching. Additional melanoma signs and symptoms include:

1. Multicolored moles or lesions

2. Scarring-like lesions

3. Changes in mole colour, size, or texture

4. Development of hard nodules or red lumps

5. Oozing, bleeding, or crusty sores or lesions

6. Pain or discomfort in a mole or skin growth

7. Raised moles

8. Alterations in the shape, edges, and borders of existing moles

9. Scaly, red patches on the body

10. Dark areas under the fingernails or toenails

Melanoma typically evolves, so any changes in a spot should be assessed by a healthcare professional. New moles or spots should also be checked by a doctor.

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Prioritise Your Skin's Health and Well-being

If you suspect melanoma or are experiencing itchy skin, seeking a professional medical evaluation is crucial. Early detection and treatment can significantly improve the chances of a full recovery. For a thorough skin examination and expert advice, don't hesitate to contact the professionals at SunDoctors. Your health and well-being are our top priorities.

For a prompt and comprehensive skin examination, reach out to us online or via phone at 13 75 46. Your health and peace of mind are our utmost concerns.

Your Skin Deserves the Best Care: Contact SunDoctors Today

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