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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Noticed dark lines under finger nails. What is causing this?

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Dr. Hema Yadav

Pediatrician, Infectious Diseases

Practicing since :2005

Answered : 1528 Questions

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Posted on Thu, 13 Dec 2012 in Skin Hair and Nails
Question: Hello Doc,
I have noticed dark lines under my finger nails for a couple of months now. The lines run from the nail bed to the edge of the nail. I have also noticed that my nail beds are receeding some what.
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Answered by Dr. Hema Yadav 2 hours later
Hello,
Thanks for posting your query.
I understand your concern regarding melanoma which can present as dark line under nails.
The cause of vertical dark line across your nail could signal a problem related to aging, nutritional issues, a fungus infection, heart valve infection by bacteria causing haemorrhages , or it can signal melanoma or a tumor.
Many causes of nail problems are commonly seen to be deficiencies in iron, zinc, calcium, or biotin as well as aging, arthritis, and toxins, even too much blood thinning from a combination of medications or supplements .
The best way to confirm is to get yourself examined by a dermatologist who can evaluate them, investigate of necessary and give an exact diagnosis.
In your case it seems more likely a fungal infection ( since receding nail bed ) or a nutritional problem . It's unlikely a melanoma which usually shows the following features,
● Age. Subungual melanoma is more common in those ages 50 to 70.
● Brown/black band / line is wider than three millimeters.
● Change has been noted in the look of the pigment band.
● Digit involved. The thumb is the most common, then the great toe and last the index finger.
● Extension of the discoloration into the cuticle or nail fold (called XXXXXXX sign).
● Family history of melanoma.

So please do not worry or jump to conclusions but do consult your dermatologist who can start appropriate treatment after confirming the cause.
If you have any more queries please feel free to ask .
In case there are no more queries, kindly accept my answer to close the query.
Wishing you good health.
Regards

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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