This woman’s nail biting habit may have led to melanoma
Only days ago a story broke that the bizarre shape of a woman’s nail led her to an early cancer diagnosis, and strangely enough another crazy but similar story has arisen. An Australian woman, according to The Sun had to have her thumb amputated, after a nail biting habit was believed to be the cause of a melanoma developing in her finger.
The Sun reports that 20-year-old Aussie girl Courtney Withorn had a chronic nail biting habit that she developed as a result of bullying. The habit became so bad she completely bit off her right thumb nail. What grew back in place of the fingernail was black in colour and prompted Whithorn to seek professional advice.
“I saw two plastic surgeons, and they were thinking to remove my nail bed to get rid of the black and then put a skin graft over it so at least it would be skin colour ... but before my first surgery to remove the nail bed, the doctors could tell something was wrong and decided to do a biopsy” Whithorn explained.
Scarily, the results of the biopsy revealed Whithorn had a form of melanoma in her finger, that doctors believed developed as a result of her nail biting habit. Two surgeries later - one to remove her nail bed and another to ensure the cancerous cells were completely removed, a final scan was conducted which revealed the safest option and general protocol for this kind of cancer was amputation.
“Because it had started to travel, the only option left was amputation, but this time I was much more prepared for that news,” Whithorn says.
According to a Miami-based dermatologist that spoke to Allure about the story - “Acral lentiginous melanoma [ALM] is a form of skin cancer that develops on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet and/or under the nails. When it occurs around your fingernails and toenails, it is called subungual melanoma,” she says. “Chronic trauma and/or inflammation has been associated with skin cancer development,” such as seen in the repeated biting of Whithorn’s nail, although it is “most specifically seen in burn wounds,” said Ted Lain (an Austin-based dermatologist) to Allure.
In Australia, melanoma is typically associated with over-exposure or lack of adequate protection in the sun, but this particular form is rare and is not believed to be linked to sun exposure.
While Whithorn’s story is a terrifying warning to not bite your fingernails it is also a reminder to check your body for any changes regularly and seek medical advice if you notice any swelling, colour changes, or pain; especially in areas that are often overlooked such as your hands, feet and nails.
What do you think of this cautionary experience?