Melanonychias pp 111-118 | Cite as

Histological Analysis of the Nail Plate in the Diagnosis of Melanonychia and Other Nail Pigmentation

  • Beth S. RubenEmail author


  • Melanocytic activation is a common cause of pigmentation of the nail plate and consists of melanin production without a proliferation of melanocytes.

  • Melanocytic proliferations (lentigo, nevi, and melanoma) often produce a solitary longitudinal pigmented band.

  • Other causes of nail plate pigmentation: pigmented squamous cell carcinoma, pigmented onychomatricoma, onychocytic matricoma, pigmented onychomycosis, and nail plate hemorrhage.

  • Nail clipping can serve as a less invasive screening procedure for identifying the cause of nail plate discoloration.

  • Fontana–Masson staining is useful in identifying melanin.

  • Benzidine stain can be used to identify hemoglobin.


Prussian Blue Nail Plate Melanin Production Nail Sampling Melanin Pigmentation 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of DermatologyUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Dermatopathology ServicePalo Alto Medical FoundationPalo AltoUSA

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