Chances are, you know to search your arms, legs, and back for changes that could indicate skin cancer. However, there is one place you are likely overlooking. You could potentially have melanoma of the nail and not be aware of it.
What Are the Signs of Subungual Melanoma?
Subungual melanoma, or melanoma of the nail, is rare. When it appears, it is often ignored because it can easily be mistaken for other nail problems, such as a fungal infection. Unfortunately, without treatment, the melanoma can spread to other areas of the body.
There are several ways that the subungual melanoma can appear. For instance, it can appear as a wide black or brown band on one of your nails. You could experience bleeding, thinning, or cracking of the nail plate. Over time, the adjacent nail can start to exhibit signs.
The color of the affected nail could even change. The entire nail might appear to be lighter or darker than the other nails. As the disease advances, the nail can start to separate from the nail bed.
How Is It Treated?
Ideally, you should alert your dermatologist as soon as you notice any of the symptoms of subungual melanoma. He or she will then examine the nail to determine if you do have the disease.
The treatment can vary based on several factors, including how far the melanoma has spread. In some instances, the nail and the melanoma are surgically removed. If the disease has spread, it might be necessary to remove the end of the affected toe or finger.
What Can You Do to Prevent Subungual Melanoma?
One of the possible causes of subungual melanoma is exposure to the sun. To protect yourself from the disease, you need to include your nails in your sun protection steps. For instance, limiting your nails' exposure to the sun is important. Simply wearing shoes outdoors can help.
In addition to this, you need to be careful of avoiding injury or trauma. Experiencing injury can increase your likelihood of developing subungual melanoma. Be especially careful of your big toenails and thumbnails since they are more likely to develop the disease.
Your dermatologist can provide you with other steps you can take to protect your nails from cancer. He or she can also provide useful tips you can use to ensure that your monthly check of your skin and nails is sufficient enough to detect changes. For more information, check out websites like http://www.eastcarolinadermatology.com.