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Glomus tumor - Nail and Distal Digit
See also in: Overview
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Glomus tumor - Nail and Distal Digit

See also in: Overview
Contributors: Shari Lipner MD, PhD, Belinda Tan MD, PhD, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


A glomus tumor is benign neoplasm that originates from cells of the glomus body. Glomus bodies are highly concentrated in the fingertips, so not surprisingly, glomus tumors are most common in the hands and subungual region. Small single tumors are most frequent, and women are affected more often than men. Most patients are between 30 and 50 years of age. Subungual glomus tumors may present with a triad: pain, pinpoint tenderness, and cold sensitivity. Physical examination may show a small reddish or bluish papule several millimeters in diameter. Some may present as a longitudinal erythronychia with distal notching or overlying longitudinal fissure.

There is a familial variant of glomus tumor, linked to chromosome 1p21–22, encoding the glomulin gene (GLMN). Multiple glomus tumors are inherited as an autosomal dominant trait and are usually found on the legs. They are often present in younger children. Neurofibromatosis type 1 may present with numerous glomus tumors involving the digits. They are often painless.


D18.00 – Hemangioma unspecified site

403969002 – Glomus tumor

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

Other causes of painful nail:
  • Cutaneous leiomyoma
  • Eccrine spiradenoma
  • Subungual hematoma
  • Subungual exostosis
  • Subungual melanoma
  • Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma
  • Lobular capillary hemangioma (pyogenic granuloma)
  • Bacterial paronychia
  • Osteoid osteoma
  • Cutaneous neuroma
  • Foreign body granuloma
  • Painful Onycholysis may occur secondary to a subungual vesicle or bulla, as may be seen in Porphyria cutanea tarda, Pseudoporphyria, or other autoimmune blistering diseases.
Differential diagnosis of longitudinal Erythronychia – single band:
  • Benign: Onychopapilloma, Subungual wart, Warty dyskeratoma, or single lesion of Lichen planus
  • Malignant: Squamous cell carcinoma in situ, Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma in situ, and Superficial basal cell carcinoma
Differential diagnosis of longitudinal Erythronychia – multiple bands, usually multiple nails:
  • Lichen planus
  • Darier disease
  • AL amyloidosis
  • Hemiplegia
  • Chronic graft-versus-host disease
  • Acantholytic Epidermolysis bullosa simplex

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Last Reviewed:02/07/2017
Last Updated:01/16/2022
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Glomus tumor - Nail and Distal Digit
See also in: Overview
A medical illustration showing key findings of Glomus tumor : Painful skin lesions, Subungual papule or tumor, Tender skin lesion
Clinical image of Glomus tumor - imageId=80028. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'A close-up of a deep blue-purple papule with a lighter border.'
A close-up of a deep blue-purple papule with a lighter border.
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.