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  • Can repeatedly picking at a scab or scar cause skin cancer/melanoma?

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    Old 02-15-2007, 06:48 AM   #1
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    Exclamation Can repeatedly picking at a scab or scar cause skin cancer/melanoma?

    In 2005, there was a blackhead that I had on my back that I picked which later became a scab and then a scar. It became impulsive for me to steadily scratch and pick at the scar, starting the process all over again. I did this about 10 or 15 times within the past two years, and now in 2007, there is a brown, partially scaly and rough and partially flat/smooth patch left over (about 2 mm wide, not raised except for where the scab was last from picking it). The last time I picked was January 18th of this year, so it might still be trying to heal from then. Now, what's terrifying me is that since it's on my back and I can't see it well, I can't tell if the mark is just a dark scar as a result of my constant bothering it or if my picking it before it healed has somehow caused it to transform into some type of skin cancer. It might sound silly, but since I found out that melanomas tend to look similarly, I have been absolutely scared. Since I read that a small number of melanomas can grow from burn scars, it got me scared that maybe they can grow from other scars too. There was a scab on it from when I picked it on January 18, but I think that part is healing. The mark is flat and smooth except for where the scab was from picking it in January. Since I heard that melanomas grow vertically, and this scar/mark seems to remain flat for the most part, does that mean that it likely isn't a melanoma or something? This is probably just a scar, right? Please help me to calm down, someone...

    So my question is, can constant picking inadvertently cause scars to grow into skin cancers like melanomas?

    I really need some peace of mind so I can stop worrying since I will not be able to see a doctor for a while. My dad died almost a month ago (not from any cancer) and since then I have been terrified of death and easily get scared over things like this. Please tell me I'm just being irrational.

    Last edited by hongyan; 02-15-2007 at 07:00 AM.

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    Old 02-15-2007, 07:34 AM   #2
    Join Date: Mar 2006
    Location: California, USA
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    Re: Can repeatedly picking at a scab or scar cause skin cancer/melanoma?

    Obviously no one here can tell you for sure whether it could be melanoma or not. But I think that you are fine. The majority of the time melanoma is in the pigmented areas, moles. There are other melanoma cases that are not a mole, but it isn't as common. And it isn't really possible to "give" yourself melanoma.

    If you can, get it checked out with a derm just to ease your mind. In the meantime, you could apply some vitamin E to it and see if it helps with the scarring. And relax.

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