A brown vertical stripe on a child’s fingernail that has never been there before is a worrisome sign that should immediately be checked out by a dermatologist, especially if the brown is in the cuticle portion.

“A brown vertical stripe in anybody’s fingernail is certainly a cause for concern,” says Dr. Janet Prystowsky, who’s a board certified dermatologist in New York, NY, with 30+ years’ experience.

Vertical Stripe in Fingernail May Be Melanoma

Dr. Prystowsky explains, “The risk of melanoma is certainly real.” I decided to write this article after reading about a woman who discovered a brownish vertical line in her child’s fingernail that eventually bled.

Sometimes, a normal mole can take the shape of a line that runs vertically “in” a fingernail.

The nail itself doesn’t contain this pigment; the pigmented lesion is below the nail in the skin that’s beneath it.

“A mole that bleeds is a red flag that the mother was smart to pick up on,” says Dr. Prystowsky.

“Luckily in this case, the child’s mole was not a melanoma. For white skinned people, approximately one percent of melanomas occur in the nail unit.”

However, this phenomenon is more common (though still rare) in blacks and especially in children (of any race).

Nevertheless, when it happens to your child, the concept of rareness goes out the window.

A worrisome sign is when the pigment has extended into the cuticle, though when melanoma under a fingernail is discovered, this isn’t always present.

You should regularly check your child’s fingernails for newly appearing vertical dark lines or stripes.

Again, the chance of melanoma is very, very rare, but on the other hand, it’s so easy to make these routine checks.

In combination with her focus on early skin cancer detection and removal, Dr. Prystowsky provides a wide range of revitalizing and rejuvenating treatments.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.