What is Toenail Melanoma?

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Subungual melanoma is a type of melanoma which begins in the nail matrix. When this condition occurs in toenail, it’s called toenail melanoma. Although subungual melanoma is a rare skin cancer, serious complications can be caused. Therefore, it’s important for you to know about the signs so that you can get early detection and treatment. Symptoms: Since this condition begins in the nail matrix, symptoms of it are different from those of common melanoma. Symptoms include:
  • A light- to dark-brown colored band on the toenail that’s usually vertical
  • A dark band on the toenail that slowly expands and covers more of the nail
  • Dark toenail pigmentation that expands to the surrounding skin
  • A nodule underneath the toenail with or without a pigmentation band
  • Toenail brittleness and cracking
  • Bleeding at the site of pigmentation
Moreover, pigmentation changes don’t occur in all the cases of the condition. Causes: Unlike other skin melanoma which is mostly caused by sun exposure, subungual melanoma is usually caused by injury or trauma. Middle aged and older adults with darker skin are more often affected. Diagnosis: It’s difficult to detect this condition on your own, so you need to visit your doctor for professional help as soon as you can if you notice any abnormal changes or growth in your nail. Doctors usually conduct a punch biopsy to make a diagnosis. Treatment: Removing the unusual growth in your toenail surgically is the only available treatment for this kind of melanoma so far. In addition, protecting your toenails from injury during any types of activities and inspecting them regularly can reduce the risk of toenail melanoma to some extent. If you have any problems, please contact your doctor. Keywords: toenail melanoma; subungual melanoma; symptoms; causes; diagnosis; treatment