Melanoma or Hematoma? Everything You Need to Know

One of the most critical pieces of advice that we, as podiatrists, can give our patient population is to perform daily foot checks and evaluations. By performing this simple daily task and paying close attention to your feet, you can identify a multitude of foot problems, from foot fungus and ingrown toenails to more serious conditions. By checking daily, patients can alert their providers and receive the resources and care that they need to care for any issues that arise.

One of the most critical conditions to keep an eye out for is the development of a melanoma under the nail. This is one of the deadliest types of cancers (Bob Marley actually died from a melanoma on his toe) and catching it early is key to creating the most effective treatment plan. Melanomas, however, can be look similar to a hematoma, a significantly less dangerous condition. How can you tell the difference between a melanoma and a hematoma? We have some helpful tips that you can use to help you tell the difference!

While a melanoma is a cancerous spot that can sometimes form below the toenail, a hematoma is a collection of blood under the nail, similar to a scab that is visible through the toenail. Hematomas are often caused by trauma. This can be something as minor as wearing shoes that are too tight or as severe as dropping a bowling ball on your toe. Identifying a specific trauma can be a great and easy way to tell what is going on with your feet. Beyond identifying a trauma, you should watch the area to see if it grows out with the nail. That is a good sign!

Another sign that you should look out for is a black line that forms under the nail. Often times, when a melanoma forms underneath the nail, it will look like somebody took a sharpie and drew a line down the center of the toe, splitting it in half. If this appears, it’s usually best to get it checked out by a professional, just in case.

As always, if you have questions or are concerned about something on your toenail, please call the office or make an appointment online!

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