Could Melanoma Be Lurking Under Your Toenails?

Doctor dermatologist examines the foot on the presence of athlete'’s foot

Skin cancer is no laughing matter, especially when one person dies from melanoma, a form of skin cancer, every 52 minutes, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. While it’s routine to regularly apply sunscreen and undergo routine skin checks for signs of possible skin cancer forming, many people don’t think to look in the less exposed areas of your body, like your toenails.

A lot of people don’t think twice about skin cancer and their toenails. In fact, most women keep them covered in nail polish.  But it is wise to give your nails a quick look before covering them back up at your next spa day, because it can potentially save your life.

Melanoma can form under the toenail, which is called subungual melanoma. This aggressive form of cancer can spread quickly and generally appears in the big toe, but can form in any of the toes. The best way to spot subungual melanoma in its early stages is to look for a pigmented stripe in the nail that has not experienced any trauma. The stripe, which is also known as Hutchinson’s stripe, is typically wider at the base and becomes narrower toward the edge of the nail. As time passes, the stripe can grow both in size and width, turn into a lesion and lift the nail.

If you spot a strip in your toenail, don’t panic. You could also have longitudinal melanonychia, which is a non-cancerous condition. But you should consult with your podiatrist regardless if you do happen to spot one.

With an estimated 10,130 dying as a result of melanoma in 2016, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Before you head out to your next pedicure appointment, remove your nail polish and conduct a thorough foot check.  You should not only check for signs of melanoma, but also look for nail fungus, warts, lesions and changes in skin pigmentation.

For more information about foot health or to make an appointment with one of our highly skilled podiatrists, please call 336.375.6990 or click here to request an appointment at one of our four office locations.

Comments are closed