What is the prevalence of melanonychia?

Updated: Sep 10, 2018
  • Author: Chris G Adigun, MD, FAAD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Physiologic melanonychia is more common in darker-pigmented individuals. Seventy-seven percent of black individuals older than 20 years and almost 100% older than 50 years have evidence of this condition. [4, 5] Longitudinal melanonychia is present in 10-20% of Japanese individuals. [6] In the general white population, the prevalence of longitudinal melanonychia is 1.4%. [7]

In a study of 68 Hispanic patients with longitudinal melanonychia, melanonychia secondary to skin pigmentation was observed in 48 cases (68.6%). [8] Of the remaining patients, 6 (8.5%) were secondary to trauma, 5 (7.1%) were secondary to fungal infection, 4 (5.7%) were associated with benign melanocytic hyperplasia, and 4 (5.7%) had a nail apparatus malignancy. The remaining 3 (4.3%) cases were of mixed etiology.

The prevalence of affected individuals increases with age. [7, 9]

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