This Fingernail Mark Could Be a Skin Cancer Symptom

Photo by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

Melanomas or skin cancers usually develop on areas of the body that get the most sun exposure, such as the chest, face, back, legs, ears, and arms.
But did you know your nails can also reveal an important sign of melanoma?

Yes, the black or brown line in nails is likely a symptom of subuangal melanoma which often times a person mistakes it for a bruise.

Subungual melanoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs under the fingernails.
“Subungual” is the medical term for “under the nail.”

It affects 0.7 to 3.5 percent of people with melanoma, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Though Subungual melanoma is an uncommon type of skin cancer, it’s important to know about its telltale sign.
Other symptoms associated with this type of skin cancer are the following:

  • brown or black streaks in the nail without any known injury
  • streaks on the nails that increase in size
  • a bruise on the nail that will not heal or move up as the fingernail grows
  • fingernails or toenails that separate from the nail bed
  • darkening skin next to the nail
  • a nail that bleeds or develops a nodule
  • thinning, cracking, or distortion of the nail plate

In addition to checking your fingernails for dark marks, you should do your own skin self-exams to check for irregular moles that may indicate melanoma or other types of skin cancer.

See your dermatologist if you see any moles that exhibit any of the ABCDEs of melanoma: asymmetry; irregular borders; varied color including shades of tan, brown, black, white, red, or blue; a diameter of 6mm or more; or evolving size, shape, or color.

Melanoma can be difficult to treat if it is not detected in its earliest stages, as it can spread to other organs where it can be potentially life-threatening.
While melanoma is not the most common type of skin cancer, it causes the most deaths.

As with other skin cancers, early diagnosis of subungual melanoma is crucial, so see your doctor right away if you happen to notice a dark mark under your fingernail or any other suspicious symptoms
Your doctor or dermatologist can do a biopsy to determine if the irregular growth or discolored area is a sign of skin cancer.

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