Sure you’d notice an irregular mole on your face and head to your dermatologist to get it checked out ASAP. But would you recognize a more subtle sign of skin cancer? Keely Jones, 40, owner of a North Carolina–based beauty company, is sharing frightening photos of the only sign of her basal cell carcinoma—a red blemish that looked like your run-of-the-mill pimple.
“See that tiny dot in the first pic? That’s all that showed on the surface,” she wrote in a Facebook post this month detailing her diagnosis and treatment. Turns out, more skin cancer lurked under the surface of her skin; she needed three procedures to remove it all, she explained.
The pimple-like mark was brought to her attention which she was getting a facial. A beautician had noticed the reddish spot and suggested Jones see a dermatologist. "I don't usually have blemishes on my face, so it was unusual for me to get a spot,” she told the Daily Mail. “I thought it was just a stubborn one, so I just continued to pick it and every time it would just scab over and bleed."
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Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, and it usually develops on places that see the most sun, like the head, neck, and back of the hands, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). These suspicious spots are often pinkish or take on the color of your skin. Sometimes they’re shiny, scaly, or waxy; they might also bleed, ooze, and crust over, as Jones' did.
While basal cell carcinoma can also resemble a pimple or a blemish, they don’t behave like one. “Picture a pimple that seems to heal, only to return again,” Ariel Ostad, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at New York University, told Health previously. If you find a spot that’s changing, growing, or bleeding, talk to a dermatologist ASAP. Found early, basal cell carcinoma is highly treatable, but without medical attention, it can spread, destroying skin, tissue and even bone, according to the AAD.
Jones said she hardly used tanning beds and avoided the sun. She's hoping her graphic photos can raise awareness. “I hesitated to share these pics because I know it may be gross or shocking to see in your newsfeeds. But if this post encourages even ONE person to set up a dermatology appointment and be checked, then it’s worth it,” she wrote on Facebook. “If you’ve never been to the #dermatologist or it’s been a while since you’re last visit… please call them ASAP.”