Melanoma—the most dangerous kind of skin cancer—usually looks like a mole, not a rash. However, skin cancer can appear as a rash if you’re dealing with one of several common non-melanoma subtypes. Although neither basal cell skin cancer nor squamous cell skin cancer will appear as a rash 100% of the time, either type of skin cancer may start out as a red, scaly patch of skin that could be mistaken for dermatitis, eczema, or psoriasis. Skin rash may also be a sign of other types of cancer.
Skin Cancer vs. Rash: Know the Signs
A red, scaly patch on your skin may be a standard rash, eczema, psoriasis, or a sign of common skin cancer—but what does a skin cancer “rash” look like? Here are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Any unusual skin changes should be discussed with your dermatologist at the earliest opportunity.
- Skin cancer is usually localized to a specific area, whereas rashes and other skin conditions can spread over a wide portion of the body.
- Certain types of skin conditions and rashes can produce flakes or shedding of skin, whereas skin cancers are usually more firm.
- Basal cell skin cancer may start as a patch of skin that looks like a rash. Over time, it may expand, forming an indentation at the center which might begin to ooze or bleed.
- Skin cancer will usually, though not always, appear on the parts of the body that receive the most sun exposure. Skin rashes can appear on the face, but many others will appear on the arms, legs, or torso. Psoriasis commonly appears on the “folds” of the body, like the elbows and knees. Eczema can appear on the hands, neck, elbows, and feet, or around the eyes.
- Most rashes will go away on their own, or with the help of over-the-counter medications like hydrocortisone. Skin cancer will not go away on its own, and that means that it’s important to consider duration when comparing skin cancer vs. rashes.
Early detection is an important determiner of outcomes wherever cancer is concerned, and it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Keep a close eye on changes to your skin, and know when to schedule a professional screening.
Is Rash a Sign of Cancer?
Skin cancers and skin rashes are separate phenomena that may resemble one another, but can skin rash be a sign of cancer that is hidden from your view? Where other types of cancer are considered, skin rashes can be a clear—and directly connected—symptom. Leukemia, mycosis fungoides, Sézary syndrome, and kaposi sarcoma may all cause a patient to present with rashes, some more significant than others.
For Common Skin Cancer, Consider Image-Guided SRT
Many types of common skin cancer can be treated with Image-Guided Superficial Radiotherapy (Image-Guided SRT), which carries no risk of surgical scarring. If your apparent rash turns out to be basal cell skin cancer or squamous cell skin cancer, talk to your doctor to find out if Image-Guided SRT is right for you. For a more informed conversation, find out how the treatment works today!