June 22, 2018

5 Strange Places You Can Get Melanoma

See where the deadliest skin cancer can develop

Think melanoma strikes only the typical sun-exposed areas of your skin? This deadly cancer can surface in surprising places, says dermatologist Christine Poblete-Lopez, MD:


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

<p><a href="https://pages.clevelandclinic.org/melanoma-guide-index.html?lid=hh">Melanoma</a> arises from melanocytes (cells that give us pigment). They are everywhere you’ve got skin. So, although it’s rare, melanoma can develop in your belly button, armpits and groin.</p>


<p>Yes, you also have melanocytes in your <a href="https://health.clevelandclinic.org/should-i-be-worried-about-that-red-line-on-my-nail/">nail beds</a>, feet and hands. Melanomas in these areas are more aggressive, likely due to a delay in diagnosis. They are more common among Asians and African-Americans.</p>


<p>Melanocytes also inhabit the colored iris of your eye, and you can develop melanoma there. When anyone develops melanoma, routine eye checks are as vital as skin checks.</p>


<p>It’s rare, but melanomas can develop in your body’s mucous membranes. These line your mouth, throat, genitalia, urinary tract, anus and rectum.</p>


<p>A full head of hair helps protect your scalp from the sun. But once <a href="https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-your-hair-protect-your-scalp-from-skin-cancer/">hair starts to thin</a>, melanoma can develop there, especially on the crown of the head.</p>

Scalp Melanoma

<p>You can’t blame melanoma entirely on the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Genetics also play a role. Multiple sunburns and exposure to <a href="https://health.clevelandclinic.org/indoor-tanning-particularly-dangerous-young-people/">tanning beds</a> also increase your risk.</p>

Tanning Bed - open and lights switched on

<p>Apply <a href="https://health.clevelandclinic.org/sunscreen-smarts/">sunscreen</a> daily, just like you brush your teeth. Reapply it when going outdoors. For full protection, you should also wear sun-protective clothing, seek shade, and avoid direct sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (You can get vitamin D from supplements.)</p>

Applying sunscreen to arm

Slide 1/7


Related Articles

Notes taped to window of possible new year's resolutions with hand in foreground holding marker.
December 1, 2023
How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Pick specific, measurable goals, but also be open to changing them if need be

person holding a thermometer with stress thought bubbles above head
December 1, 2023
Yes, There Is Such a Thing as Stress Sickness

From nausea, weight gain and eczema, stress can affect your immune system in many ways

bowl of soy-based cubes with hand
November 30, 2023
Can Soy Cause Breast Cancer?

Research consistently shows that soy-based foods do not increase cancer risk

person scratching neck that has eczema
November 29, 2023
How Lifestyle Changes and Self-Care Can Improve Your Atopic Dermatitis

Changing your wardrobe or environment won’t eliminate eczema, but it can help reduce flares

person stressing, with clock and books
November 29, 2023
6 Ways To Feel Less Anxious in the Mornings

Breathwork, sleep mediatation and avoiding screens can help fight back morning anxiety

covid toe
November 28, 2023
Are COVID Toes and Rashes Common Symptoms of the Coronavirus?

Chilblain-like skin lesions and rashes probably aren’t COVID related

magnesium pills out of container spelling out MG
November 28, 2023
Magnesium for Anxiety: Does It Help?

This supplement may help with regulating cortisol levels, which may help with stress

woman in her forties, using an inhaler
November 28, 2023
Why Sex Hormones Can Help (or Hurt) Your Asthma

Developmental changes like puberty and menopause can impact symptom severity

Trending Topics

group of hands holding different beverages
November 14, 2023
10 Myths About Drinking Alcohol You Should Stop Repeating

Coffee won’t cure a hangover and you definitely shouldn’t mix your cocktail with an energy drink

Person applies moisturizer as part of their skin care routine after a shower.
November 10, 2023
Korean Skin Care Routines: What You Need To Know

Focus on the philosophy — replenishing and respecting your skin — not necessarily the steps

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
November 8, 2023
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try