Dry Skin or Skin Cancer?

dry skinThe country's current cold snap is enough to turn my skin into an itchy landscape of white, peeling snowflakes. My skin is super dry, and my kids have the same problem.

I have to admit that I have an infinite amount of freckles and moles, too. And sometimes, the dry skin plus the moles alarm me. They just look weird.

That's why I wonder, when is it just dry skin, and when is it cancer?


Sometimes, it can be very difficult to decipher which is which, explains Dr. Craig Austin, creator of AB Skincare. If you noticed something growing quickly, then it's much more likely to be a dry patch, not skin cancer. Also, dry skin goes away quickly with lotion or as the weather becomes more humid. If you have several dry patches, it's probably just dry skin--skin cancer is more likely to be isolated.

But you should see a doc if a weird dry patch of skin lasts for 3 or 4 months. Also, keep an eye on areas of your body where you get a lot of sun--your face, your left forearm (sun exposure from driving), the tops of your legs. Skin cancer is more likely to crop up in those places.

Use the ABCD rule for home exams, and if you detect any of the following, call your doctor:

  • A is for asymmetry. That's when one half of a mole doesn't match the other.
  • B is for border. The edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.
  • C is for color. The color is not the sane all over and may include shades of brown, black, pink, red, white or blue.
  • D is for diameter. The spot is larger than about 1/4 inch--the size of a pencil eraser.

To keep your skin safe, have a doctor check you out once a year, and be sure to wear sunscreen. Melanoma skin cancer is very serious and life-threatening--but it's highly treatable with early detection.

To keep your skin moist, check out Cafe MicheleZ's recent post, 6 Steps to Winterize Your Skin. Lately, it's been so cold where I live in New Jersey that we've been using petroleum jelly on our hands and lips. It's messy--especially when my kids gets ahold of it. But it works, and we call it Magic Boo Boo Cream.

Do you have dry skin? If so, what are you tips for dealing with it?

Read More >