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Brown mark on your nail

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 1 minute read

A recent injury to the nail can cause a bruise that can look brown, black, purple or red - this should improve with time and grow out with the nail. There are some features to watch out for that can be signs of something more serious.

What things would warrant a closer look?

If you have had no recent injury, this needs further investigation, as it is an unusual place to have moles or marks, and therefore we treat it with more caution if it is new or has changed in color, size or shape. The concern is a skin cancer called melanoma, and this would usually only affect one nail.

You are at slightly higher risk of this being a concerning mark if you are of southeast Asian origin or darker skin, and over 40 years old.

When should I see my doctor?

As discussed earlier, if you have had no recent injury, this needs further investigation. You should book an urgent appointment with your doctor, who may ask you more questions and examine you. If they agree that this needs further assessment, they will send you for an appointment with a dermatologist.

Am I fit for work?

If you have a brown mark on your nail you are fit for work.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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