Moles

Should you be concerned about moles that bleed, become itchy or painful?

What about red spots or moles on our skin?

What causes a “mole” to itch, bleed or become painful?

  • Moles that bleed with minimal trauma may be in fact skin cancers with abnormal blood vessels or impaired skin integrity.
  • Itchy moles may be a result of “normal” processes such as eczema and dermatitis. However it may also be due to nerve endings being irritated by cancerous cells.
  • Similarly, painful moles not caused by trauma may be harbouring cancerous cells.
  • Seek medical help if these symptoms do not resolve after 2 weeks.

What are moles?

Moles are made up of collections of living cells called melanocytes. These collections of melanocytes usually reside near the boundary between the top layer of the skin, called the Epidermis, and the bottom layer called the Dermis. When a mole develops, it actually grows amongst the existing skin structures.

What else may be within a mole?

  • Blood vessels, which provide nutrients and waste removal.
  • Small nerve fibres, which allow us to have normal sensation.
  • Immune system cells, which help to fend off any intruders such as bacteria.
  • Oil glands, sweat glands and hair follicles.

What are Melanocytes?

Melanocytes are pigment producing cells. They produce melanin, which gives our skin its natural background colour. In response to UV radiation, such as sunlight, they produce more melanin in an attempt to provide protection from further UV radiation.

What causes a mole to bleed?

Sufficient trauma can make any skin or moles bleed. This may happen accidentally such as shaving cuts. We are most concerned with moles that bleed with minimal trauma. It tells us the skin surface has been weakened or that the blood vessels under the skin are unusually fragile. A cancerous change or growth can cause such changes to the skin structures.

What causes a mole to become itchy?

Itch is a sensation transmitted by small nerve endings within the skin layers. Common skin conditions such as dermatitis and allergic reactions, and external causes such as insect bites can cause itching. However, abnormal growth within a mole or melanoma may also activate these itch nerve fibres. Therefore, if a mole begins to itch without a known cause, it is time to be vigilant. If the itch persists for more than 2 weeks then you should consider seeking a medical opinion.

What causes a mole to become painful?

Similar to itch, pain is transmitted by nerve fibres in the skin. As expected, any injury to a mole can lead to a painful mole. This should settle very quickly within days. If there is no known injury and the pain persists beyond 2 weeks, then you should consider an examination by a trained Skin Check WA doctor.

What causes a mole to become red?

A red mole or spot is a result of an increased blood supply to the mole. Again this may be as a result of trauma. However it may be a sign of abnormal growth of blood vessels into a skin cancer. Red is a colour of concern within a mole, as it is not usually found in normal moles. There are of course red spots such as “haemangioma”, which are not moles but non cancerous benign growth of blood vessels.

If you have a mole that has become red, itchy, painful or has bled, it is a significant symptom that you should not ignore.

It may be a melanoma.

Seek assessment by a Skin Check WA doctor trained in dermoscopy, as soon as possible.

If you do not have a regular doctor trained in dermoscopy, Skin Check WA will be glad to help.


Call Skin Check WA on 08 9271 2522 or Book Online for an urgent appointment.