Pigmented Lesions of the Nail Unit

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Abstract

Pigmented lesions of the nail unit are commonly encountered in the clinical setting. Yet, they often present a unique challenge to clinicians because of a broad differential diagnosis or unfamiliarity with clinical and histopathologic features. A wide variety of causes exist ranging from benign lesions such as subungual hemorrhage to malignant lesions such as subungual melanoma. Identifying the underlying cause is key to appropriate management and follow-up in these patients. Although emerging clinical tools such as dermoscopy can be very useful in evaluation of these lesions, histopathologic analysis remains the gold standard. In this review, we discuss and provide a summary of important clinical and histopathological concepts of pigmented lesions of the nail unit with special focus on longitudinal melanonychia, melanotic macule, melanocytic nevus, subungual melanoma, along with discussion of some nonmelanocytic lesions.

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