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Old 05-31-2005, 11:38 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2
princetonsista HB User
Question Light brown line in nail/nail bed


I'm a 19 year-old, African-American female and have had a light brown line a little to the right of the center of the pinky fingernail of my left hand for about 3 years. I just noticed it one day and it hasn't changed since the first day I noticed it. It is a well defined and consistent line, about a millimeter wide that runs the length of my nail.

I normally bite my nails and, when they are short, the line looks as though it is in my nail bed and not my nail. It is difficult to tell whether the line is in the skin or just appearing so, due to how close my nail is to the nail bed, because the line does not extend past the end of my nail when my nails are short. However, when I grow my nails longer, from time to time, the line grows with my nail.

I searched online about two years ago to find information about what the line might mean and I found a little information that basically equated nail lines/discoloration with indicators of various illnesses. However, I was never able to find that site again when I did subsequent searches.

I decided to search again today and I came across this site. In reading over some of the other posts that individuals have made and visiting the site that was suggested in response to one of them, I found the term "melanonychia."

I looked up this term and found much seemingly contradictory information. In short, I found that such lines can be considered common in darker-complected individuals of my race, that a single line could indicate a serious illness, that multiple lines could indicate a serious illness, and that in certain situations the lines are nothing to worry about.

I am rather befuddled by the lack of consistency in information and would like to know whether or not I should be concerned about the line in my pinky. I have not visited a doctor specifically for my nail because I have not been overly concerned with the issue--when mentioned to my regular physician in passing she was dismissive of it.

I do not recall there being a history of such lines in the nails of my family members nor a history of any of the illnesses that I have seen such a line equated to (e.g. melanoma or Hutchinson's disease). I am fairly healthy and have only been found to be somewhat anemic in the past year or so.

If I should be concerned, what should I be concerned about? If I should go to a doctor, what kind of doctor should I see (e.g. general physician, dermatologist, or another with a more specific specialty)?

Thank you for your time and information.

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