It is possible to have moles on the scalp, face, neck, back, and any other part of your body. You can also have a hairy mole or hair growing out of moles, which means your mole is positioned over a hair follicle. Some moles are cancerous, while others are usually non-cancerous. Moles can itch, irritate, bleed, and even hurt, depending on their type and location. One of the most frequently asked questions we often receive is, “can itchy moles be harmless?”
So, why does a mole itch?
Though it is possible to develop cancer in an itchy mole, it is still not the most likely cause. There can be many reasons why a mole is itchy but not hurting. Your mole can itch when the nerves of your skin are irritated. This sensation in moles is likely caused by dry skin, peeling skin, sunburn, or certain chemicals applied to your skin. Not only that, but your mole can also itch if there’s a change occurring inside the mole. However, changing moles are moles to worry about. So, you should see your dermatologist if your mole is changing.
If you have a mole that hurts, bleeds, is swollen, falls off, or simply feels rough, read through our guide to learn everything about itchy moles.
What is a mole?
Moles are a cluster of cells formed on the skin. They can occur anywhere on your body. An average adult has 10-40 moles. Most moles are harmless and grow from early in childhood till your turn 25. The moles can develop cancer, mainly when appearing during your adulthood.
The medical term for a mole is nevi. Most moles are brown or black in color. But moles can be red, pink, white, or blue too. So which moles are dangerous? Color alone cannot identify which mole is cancerous. Visit your dermatologist if your mole’s color spreads into its surrounding skin or if your mole has different shades of a color or irregularity in shape. Cancerous moles can cause itching, pain, soreness, or bleeding. This discomfort can be persistent or in intervals.
What is a red mole?
Red moles are also called cherry angiomas. It is common to grow red moles on the face, scalp, arms, legs, back, or anywhere on the skin for people aged over 30. These moles are reddish because of the cluster of small blood vessels formed inside a cherry angioma. Are red moles dangerous? No, red moles are not usually dangerous. However, you should see your doctor if your mole changes its color or redness spread around the mole.
What is a blue nevus mole?
Although blue nevus (plural: blue nevi) moles may seem weird, they are typically benign, which means they’re usually harmless. But you should visit your doctor if you notice a gradual change like any other mole.
What is the difference between common moles and atypical moles?
Common moles are usually harmless unless you have more than 50 moles. They rarely become cancerous. These moles have only one color, such as brown, red, blue, pink, tan, colorless mole, etc. Their shape is round, identical, and distinct from the surrounding skin.
On the other hand, atypical moles (dysplastic nevi) are relatively less common, with a somewhat higher risk of cancer. Like common moles, these moles can also be raised or flat but are irregular and uneven in shape. They also don’t have a distinct border and often contain multiple shades of color.
Why might a mole be itchy but not painful?
It is possible to have a mole that itches but doesn’t cause any pain. Although an itchy mole, along with bleeding and crusting, can be a sign of skin cancer (melanoma), it can also be harmless. There are many other reasons why your mole itches, but it doesn’t hurt. A mole itches when there’s an irritation in your skin’s nerves. Conditions like dry skin, sunburn, peeling skin, or contact with specific chemicals to your skin can cause this irritation in your mole.
Furthermore, you feel itching in your mole when your mole is undergoing a change within itself. However, an itchy mole (due to internal changes) is a symptom of skin cancer. So, make sure to let your doctor know when you notice any change in your mole.
Tip: itchy or bleeding moles are not always cancerous. However, if you scratch your mole, it may bleed and cause infection in your mole.
In what ways can an itchy mole be treated?
Since most moles are harmless, they don’t require any treatment. But if you have a mole that itches, bleeds, and hurts, or there’s a chance of cancer, your dermatologist may remove it. There are two ways to treat an itchy mole. These are:
Surgical excision: this procedure involves numbing your skin and cutting out the problematic mole. After that, your dermatologist will likely stitch your wound.
Surgical shave: this procedure is used to treat small moles. It involves numbing your skin and removing the raised part of the mole with the help of a surgical blade. This procedure doesn’t require any stitches.
If there’s a risk of cancer, your dermatologist may perform a biopsy. A biopsy is a medical test performed on the sample of your skin cells or mole to check for cancer.
What are the signs that a mole might be malignant?
The ABCDE (Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, or Evolving) rule helps identify the warning signs that a mole might be malignant. Talk to your doctor if you notice any of the following warning signs:
- Asymmetry: When one-half mole or birthmark’s shape doesn’t match the other.
- Border: When a mole’s edges are blurred, notched, ragged, or irregular.
- Color: when your mole’s color is in shades of brown or black, or patches of red, blue, white, purple, or pink.
- Diameter: when your mole is larger than 6mm. However, in some cases, melanomas can be smaller in size.
- Evolving: when your mole gradually changes its color, size, or shape.
Note: Not all melanomas follow these rules. You should tell your doctor immediately when you notice changes or spot new, different-looking moles on the skin.
Can skin cancers cause itching?
Is itching a sign of cancer? Yes, skin cancer can cause itching, falling off moles, rashes, and pain. For instance, basal cell skin cancer often forms a crusty sore that causes itching in a mole. Moreover, the deadliest form of skin cancer, known as melanoma, can also cause itching in your mole. However, this is one of many possibilities. So if you ask, “is an itchy mole always cancer?” The answer will be: No, itchy moles are not always cancerous. But then again, if your mole hurts, bleeds, itches, or falls off, it is essential to get it checked by your doctor once you notice any one of the symptoms mentioned above.