PAINLESS BUT DEADLY: How to check your nails for melanoma

Few people worry about their nails beyond a manicure every now and then, but they can show signs of real trouble.

Most people aren't aware nail melanoma even exists, but it does, and it's important for you to be aware of the risks.

When Peggy Waters' thumbnail split open, she didn't think much of it.

"I just put a Band-aid down around it to pull the two sides together, but I didn't really think anything about it," Waters said.

A year and a half later, she was being treated for melanoma under her nail.

It's rare, but it happens.

"Pigmented band in the nail can be a sign of melanoma. Fortunately, more commonly it's a sign of a mole in and around the nail," said Howard Gerber M.D., Dermatologist/Dermatopathologist.

Dr. Gerber says the scariest part is nail melanoma is typically painless, which is a problem because people aren't aware anything is happening.

There are signs to look for, though.

"If there's a dark, pigmented line that runs from the bottom to the tip of your nail, I would get it checked by your dermatologist," said Gerber.

The nail may also split like Waters' nail did. By then, the melanoma may have spread.

"Once someone has been diagnosed with melanoma in the nails, go ahead and get it out completely. The second thing is to make sure the melanoma hasn't spread to other places," explained Gerber.

Waters says she'll never wait again if she sees an issue with her nails.

"If I see something strange that's happening on my skin, I get it checked immediately," Waters said.

It's important to have regular examinations with a dermatologist and point out any changes in your nails and on your body.
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