Subungual is the medical term for “under the nail” and melanoma is a form of skin cancer that develops from the mutation of pigment producing cells. Subungual Melanoma is a type of cancer that occurs under the nail plate. It often starts as a brown or black streak under the toenail or fingernail.

Onychomycosis is the medical term for nail fungus. It is caused by fungi called dermatophytes that infect the nail and spreads through the nail bed and the layers of the nail plate. It causes the nail to be deformed and discolored.

Subungual melanoma is rare, accounting for about 3% of all malignant melanoma cases. On the other hand, Onychomycosis is one of the most common nail conditions in adults. Because both of the conditions above cause discoloration on the nail. One can be confused with the other. Below are list of symptoms for the conditions. 

Subungual Melanoma Symptoms:

  • Black, purple, or brown bands that increase in size 
  • Darkening of the skin around the affected nail
  • Splitting of cracking of the nail
  • Pain
  • Pus
  • Separation of the nail from the nail bed
  • Deterioration of the nail
  • Bruise on the nail that will not heal as the nail grows

Nail Fungus Symptoms

  • Thickened nail
  • White, yellow, or brown discoloration
  • Deformed nail shape
  • Brittle nails
  • Odor coming from the affected nail

If you have any of the symptoms above, visit a podiatrist to have it diagnosed. Click here for a free consultation. Nail fungus can easily be diagnosed, while melanoma will have to go through a biopsy. The doctor may ask when the symptoms began showing and how the nail has changed over time. 

Once the extent of the subungual melanoma has been determined, treatment may begin by surgically removing the affected area. For Onychomycosis, there is laser treatment that kills the fungus that is infecting the nail. Once the treatment is done, the nail should grow back health and fungus free. Click here to learn more about Laser Treatment for Toenail Fungus.