Eczema can sometimes be confused with skin cancer, because of the symptoms associated with the condition. Scaly patches, blisters, and other symptoms can alarm people with eczema, especially if these symptoms appear later in life. Only a dermatologist can be sure if you’re dealing with eczema or skin cancer. Keeping up with routine skin cancer screenings won’t treat eczema, but it can give you peace of mind going forward.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes itchy skin, dry skin, scaly patches, blisters, rashes, and skin infections. According to the National Eczema Association, eczema affects over 30 million Americans and can appear in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood. There are seven different types of eczema: atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and stasis dermatitis.
Eczema ranges from mild to severe. A “flare-up” of eczema is a phase of the condition where the symptoms are especially noticeable and uncomfortable. Flare-ups can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. There’s no cure for eczema, but there are ways to treat the symptoms, such as using moisturizing creams, prescription topical corticosteroids, over-the-counter remedies, and more.
Can Eczema Cause Skin Cancer?
According to the National Eczema Association, having eczema doesn’t necessarily increase your risk of skin cancer. However, some eczema symptoms can resemble those of different types of skin cancer. For people with eczema, especially severe eczema, it can be harder to detect the early warning signs of skin cancer, because they already experience symptoms like scaly patches, blisters, dry patches, etc. If you have eczema, it’s important to get regular skin cancer screenings and consult your dermatologist if you notice anything unusual.
What to Look for: The ABCDEs of Skin Cancer
In addition to getting regular full-body screenings, you can use the ABCDEs of skin cancer to complete a self-examination. This will help you monitor any changes in your skin in between regular appointments with your dermatologist. The ABCDEs stand for visual signs that are typically associated with skin cancer, including asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, have it examined as soon as possible to determine whether it’s eczema or skin cancer.
Learn More About Image-Guided SRT
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer, talk to your healthcare provider to learn more about Image-Guided SRT — a surgery-free form of treatment for common skin cancers. Contact us online or by phone to speak with one of our skin cancer information specialists today.