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Skin Care and Diseases

Skin discolored on my finger

12/28/2005

Question:

I am a 35 year old white female I need to know why my finger keeps turning {BROWN}. Afew months back I noticed that my left index finger had turned brown.I thought that maybe it was from smoking but I do not use my left hand to smoke and my right hand has never changed. after a few weeks the discolor had worked it`s way out through my finger nail and I thought it was gone.NOT! I woke up this morning and it was back. just about the middle knuckel {dark} going torward the nail {fading}. could this be due lack of vitamins? should i be more concerned? is there any chance it may get worse? please help.

Answer:

Your description is unusual, but sounds as though it is a temporary process rather than a major permanent process.  The observation that it comes and goes suggests that it is environmental.  I would suggest that you look around in your work place to see if there are materials that you get on your hand that would stain both your finger and the nail.  However, it is unusual, and I would urge you to see a board certified dermatologist who can examine the nail, do scrapings, biopsies, or whatever is necessary to establish the diagnosis and help you with permanent resolution of the problem.  It certainly does not sound like a vitamin deficiency which would involve large areas of skin and be symmetrical, appearing on both sides of your body.  Good luck, but see your physician soon.

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati