A nail technician has shared a photo online of her client’s nail with a dark stripe down the middle to urge people to be aware of the little-known symptom of deadly skin cancer.
Jean Skinner, from Essex, posted the image on Facebook and explained that the woman had initially dismissed the mark as a blood blister.
However, Jean explains she immediately knew that it probably indicated melanoma – – the most serious form of skin cancer – and advised her to seek urgent medical help.
She wrote that the client called her to say she had since been diagnosed with aggressive melanoma, and that it has spread to her lymph nodes.
The client had dismissed the stripe as a blood blister or a sign of a calcium deficiency until the nail technician urged her to seek medical advise – then she was diagnosed with skin cancer
Jean posted: ‘I had a walk-in nail client a couple weeks ago. She had a straight dark vertical stripe down her nail. She said “I need a colour dark enough to cover this stripe”.
The woman had been told by others the mark could be a blood blister or due to a calcium deficiency.
‘I did not want to frighten my client, but I told her she needed to see her doctor immediately,’ she wrote.
‘She called me today to tell me that, yes, the dark stripe indicated a very aggressive melanoma, and that it has already spread to her lymph nodes. Her prognosis is not good.’
Pay attention to nail changes
Symptoms that most people think of when they think of skin cancer are change in appearance to moles and the emergence of lumps and ulcers.
Jean cautioned people to take note of changes in their nail beds too.
‘Please pay attention to abnormalities in your nail beds! Odd changes in your nails can very likely be nothing to worry about! But sometimes it is an indication of a very serious disease,’ she said.
‘And please keep an eye on the nail beds – toes and fingers – of your elderly loved ones and your loved ones that aren’t physically able to notice changes in the nail beds. Early diagnosis can make all the difference in the world!’
A Facebook user responded with a photo of a line down her nail, admitting that she was scared. She later provided an update that she had visited her GP and had an urgent referral to see a dermatologist marked urgent.
WHAT SUBUNGUAL MELANOMA?
Subungual melanoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs under the fingernails.
‘Subungual’ is the medical term for ‘under the nail.’
Melanoma can be difficult to treat if it is not detected in its earliest stages, as it can spread to other organs.
An estimated 1.4 per cent of melanoma cases are those that affect the fingernail, including subungual melanoma, according to the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research.
Subungual melanoma comes from the nail matrix, which is where keratin originates.
Other nail-related cancers include ungula melanoma, which occurs underneath the nail plate, and periungual melanoma, which comes from the skin next to the nail plate.
If you have dark skin, it’s fairly common to have streaks of the pigment melanin down your fingernails, according to NHS Choices.
However, they shouldn’t be ignored, as dark stripes may sometimes be a form of skin cancer called subungual melanoma.
It often starts as a brown or black streak under a toenail or fingernail. A person may mistake it for a bruise.
This usually only affects one nail, causing the stripe to change in appearance. It may then become wider or darker over time.
The pigmentation may also affect the surrounding skin.
More than 70,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma each year in the US, the American Cancer Society estimates.
In the UK that number is around 13,300 people a year, according to Cancer Research.