We’ve all been told by doctors and dermatologists to check the hidden areas of our body, the places we wouldn’t think to look, when checking for possible signs of skin cancer—between our toes, our hairline, the soles of our feet.

But did you know your nails are another hidden area that needs attention too?

Melanoma of the nail beds—called acral lentiginous melanoma—usually appears as a dark stripe or band through the thumb, index finger or big toe. Though nail cancers account for only about five percent of all diagnosed melanomas, it is most prevalent in people of color, accounting for nearly 40 percent of cases of skin cancer.

It’s also important for those who paint their nails regularly to remember to check when the polish is removed. A lot of time, discoloration under the nail is caused from bruising, but keep an eye on it, especially if you don’t remember bumping your nail.

Warning signs can include:

–       If the stripe is very dark

–       If there are blurred borders

–       If there are changes in a stripe that’s been there

–       If you have a history of melanoma in your family

Just as your face and other exposed areas need to be protected from sun exposure, so do your nails. Look for nail polishes and topcoats with UV filters, such as Essie Sun-E.

As with all forms of melanoma, be aware and be vigilant of your body. If you notice any unusual discoloration or changes in spots on your skin, consult a dermatologist right away.

REN Dermatology is a comprehensive skin care center located in Franklin, Tenn., in the heart of Williamson County. You can schedule an appointment over the phone at 615.835.3220, or online through the website’s contact page.