Biopsies Nail Cultures

Dr. Bruce Theall, as well as most podiatrists, is uniquely trained as lower extremity specialists to recognize abnormal conditions of the skin. A biopsy sample can be taken of any kind of tissue from the body. A biopsy can be done only when there is suspicion of normal tissue not being present. Abnormal tissue can be defined as a lesion, tumor, or a mass. Many skin cancers of the lower extremity have a very different appearance than those on other areas of the body. Through the use of a simple painless skin biopsy, a sample of the skin is sent to a specialized laboratory where it is evaluated in detail. If the lesion is determined to be malignant, we can recommend the best course of treatment for your condition.

All abnormal looking lesions on the lower extremity can be evaluated by the “ABCDs”. Many lesions are asymmetric (one side of the lesion looks different from the other), the borders of the lesion are irregular, colored in appearance, and the diameter of the lesion is usually greater than 6-7mm. Anytime that you see a new lesion or discoloration on the skin, you should advise your podiatrist to inspect it when you come for a visit.

Most skin cancers are painless, but will have certain characteristics like cracking, bleeding, and enlargement of any existing spot, irregular borders, and different colors within the lesion and the color spreads into surrounding skin, redness or swelling, pain, tenderness, itching, bleeding, oozing, or may present as scaly in appearance .

The worst type of skin cancer is a malignant melanoma, which is most commonly seen on sun exposed surfaces. These malignant lesions arise from UV exposure/sunlight. Tumors arise from the skin and occasionally arise from areas on the skin where there are hair follicles. Slow growing, asymptomatic, never metastasize, generally spreading only locally. Which, when not detected early, often leads to death. Other cancers are squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma, which are frequent in the foot and legs on sun exposed areas.


These are performed when we try to evaluate a patient's condition for any skin rash that is not resolving or for thickening of the nails to ensure that the cause is a fungus organism. There are also noninvasive and painless to do, but they help us to determine the proper course of treatment for our patients whether be oral treatment, topical creams or lotions, and sometimes laser therapy.

Nail cultures are especially important when trying to diagnose a patient for onychomycosis, nail fungus. If one suspects they have a nail fungus, the nail presents with yellow/brownish, white, black, yellow or green. If the infection progresses, the nail may become brittle and soft, swelling and inflammation develop around and underneath the nail as well as foul odor. Anyone who has had a nail problem for a number of years that has not resolved with anti-fungal creams or moisturizers, needs to have their nail cultured and to be evaluated thoroughly.

For more information, contact our East Orange office at 973-673-FOOT (3668) .

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