Changing moles can be a cause for concern. If you notice any of your moles looking different than they have in the past, it is best to visit your dermatologist to be evaluated. Any changes in shape or color can be a sign that skin cancer is developing. Other characteristics that can make people worry is a mole that has gotten bigger and looks red.
An inflamed mole (nevus) can become more red in appearance and begin to swell, making it look like it has grown. This tends to occur from irritation when healthy moles are rubbed or injured, such as with habits like shaving. “The truth is, we can irritate moles and make them red, or cut them and make them bleed, just like the rest of the skin,” says dermatologist Adam Mamelak, MD.
The issue with inflamed moles, however, is these symptoms can also be seen in certain types of skin cancer, such as melanoma. Determining whether a nevus is simply an agitated mole or contains malignant cells is crucial. Since the differences between these moles tend to be subtle, however, getting an evaluation is necessary to rule out any concerning conditions. The American Academy of Dermatology encourages people to follow the ABCDEs to check their moles. (A for asymmetry, B for border, C for color, D for diameter and E for elevation/evolution.)
An inflamed mole can display some of these characteristics, which is why it is important to figure out the cause. If one can’t be identified, or the changes persist, further evaluation from a skin care professional is recommended. Mole removal may be advised to reduce irritation in the future.
When in doubt, Dr. Mamelak urges people to make an appointment with their dermatologist to have their mole examined. Yearly skin exams should also be scheduled to ensure any small changes in your moles or skin are caught, as they may not always be obvious.