5 Warning Signs You May Have Facial Skin Cancer

May 7th 2016

Facial skin cancer is a serious risk, but paying attention to your skin and seeking medical help if you notice any change can save your life. Consult a doctor as soon as possible if you notice changes in moles, unusual red or scaly patches, or other changes in your skin.

Red, Scaly Skin

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are two of the most prevalent types of skin cancer, and both often appear as a patch of red skin with scaly flakes or a crust over it. This may be initially mistaken for dry skin, psoriasis or other skin conditions, but concerns heighten when treatment does not alleviate the symptoms. People with fair skin, light-colored eyes or a family history of skin cancer are especially at risk, so they should see a dermatologist immediately if this develops.


Although a variety of injuries can cause sores, one that suddenly appears without an apparent cause should be seen by a doctor immediately. Sores that do not heal are a common symptom of skin cancer. These may be large or small, and they generally ooze or bleed. The sore may appear to scab or heal for a little while, only to reopen and bleed again.

Lumps and Bumps

Skin cancer can manifest in a variety of colors and sizes. Lumps that appear suddenly and are hard and red may be symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma, while basal cell carcinoma often appears as a slightly raised bump that has a waxy or pearly texture. Sometimes, these take the form of a flat, scar-like area instead of a raised lump. A small, horn-like growth of keratin is also occasionally a symptom of facial skin cancer.

Watch Your Lips

Lips are a common site of facial skin cancers, and the changes in them can be subtle. One common sign is actinic cheilitis, which causes rough, red or scaly patches on the lips. Some of this is normal as part of dry skin, but potentially cancerous changes are persistent and resist treatment. Sometimes this is paired with swelling, prominent lines or a blending of the lip and the skin around it.

Know Your Moles

Melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer, but it is the most fatal. The most common warning sign of facial melanoma is sudden changes in moles. Cancerous moles are usually asymmetrical, while normal moles are round. Unhealthy ones also often have a variety of pigments, and may bleed or crust over. Moles that were previously normal but begin to enlarge or otherwise change may also be early warning signs. See a dermatologist if you develop new moles or splotches of pigment as well.


Skin cancer is both a pressing and potentially life-threatening disease, but is easily treatable if caught early enough. Unfortunately, it usually affects skin that experiences the most sun exposure, including the face. Knowing the early warning signs of skin cancer may save your life or prevent serious disfigurement down the road.

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