Pain is a symptom. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that it needs attention. Pain also has a protective role, because it can tell you to stop or change whatever you’re doing. Nerves in your tissues or skin send a pain signal to your brain when they’re irritated by an activity, injury, or disease.

Pain in a mole is no different from any other pain. It means there’s a problem that you need to fix. You start by examining the mole to discover why it hurts.

Painful Moles

A nerve in pain

A nerve in pain

You’ll possibly find a harmless reason as to why your mole hurts. Moles frequently become painful when injured. It’s easy to bump moles that are in exposed areas such as your hands. Clothing that’s too tight or that binds can irritate a mole and eventually causes it to become painful. Moles can also be injured by personal grooming such as scraping a scalp mole with a comb. Other injuries can result from rubbing too hard when applying skin care products.

If a mole starts to hurt and you’re sure that it’s not been injured or irritated, then it has possibly become cancerous. You need to seek the services of a dermatologist.

Why do Moles Become Itchy, Bleeding, Red, or Painful?

A Cherry Angioma

A Cherry Angioma

As with pain, moles that become itchy, bleeding, or red have probably been irritated or injured. Conditions such as eczema or dermatitis make the skin itchy. Not only will that make moles itchy, accidently scratching the mole can cause it to bleed. Itching and scratching due to insect bites or allergic reactions can also lead to bleeding.

Small red bumps that appear suddenly on your skin are usually not moles. The common name for these is Cherry Angiomas. They are a signal that your body needs attention, but they are seldom cancerous. They’re usually a symptom of poor diet, too much sun, and stress or anxiety.

Normal angiomas are not painful, nor do they bleed. In common with true moles, if a red mole exhibits any change in size, shape, or color, then it may be an indication of cancerous cells. A group of angiomas in one location may also indicate skin cancer. If any angioma becomes painful or bleeds without having been injured or irritated, then it needs the same medical attention as a mole.

A red mole

A red mole

A true mole that changes to red or develops a red spot may be a sign that it is cancerous. The redness is due to increased blood supply to the area and is not usually found in harmless moles.

If the mole has not been injured or irritated by external trauma, then redness indicates abnormal growth. Redness and growth are signs of skin cancer, and medical intervention is necessary.

What Should I Do If My Mole Hurts?

When you have a mole that hurts, you first need to determine if it has been injured or irritated. If there is no external cause for the pain, and if the pain lasts for up to two weeks, then it’s time to consult a doctor.

Experts recommend having moles examined by a dermatologist. Dermatologists are medical doctors with specialized training in skin conditions. If you consult a general practitioner or other health care professional first, request a referral to a dermatologist, especially if the preliminary diagnosis indicates cancer.

Does a Painful Mole Mean I Have Skin Cancer?

A normal mole is generally brown but may be other colors. The important thing about color is that the mole is just the one color, without spots of other colors. Most normal moles are flat, but they may also be slightly raised. Harmless moles are evenly shaped and less than 1/4 inch in diameter.

Moles can be black, white, or any color in between.

A mole that’s become painful that you’ve not injured or irritated can often be a sign of developing skin cancer. The malignant, or cancerous, cells push against sensitive nerves as they grow. The growth leads to surface changes, as well as pain. The changes and pain are abnormal.

Changes in moles are described as ABCDE changes. Each letter indicates a particular change in how the mole looks. Not every mole undergoes every change. In most cases, even one change in the surface appearance of a mole is a symptom of abnormal growth.

The ABCDE changes are as follows:

  • Asymmetry. This means that the mole has lost its rounded shape. One side of it is not the same size or shape as the other side.
  • Border. The edges of the mole have become irregular or odd shaped.
  • Color. Changes in color are often the result of malignant growth.
  • Diameter. A mole that increases in size to more than 1/4 inch is not normal.
  • Elevated. A flat mole that becomes raised, or a raised mole that increases in height, is growing and may be cancerous.

Regular self-exams will alert you to any of these changes in time to seek medical attention before a potential malignancy spreads through your body.

Types of Skin Cancer

The major kinds of skin cancer are:

  1. Basal cell carcinoma.
  2. Squamous cell carcinoma.
  3. Melanoma.

Of these, melanoma is the most deadly. You cannot self-treat any skin cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinomas begin in the basal cell layer of your skin, which is the deep layer where new cells are produced. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common of all cancers and is easily treatable in the early stages. It appears on the surface of the skin in various forms and can resemble moles.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma starts in the upper layers of the skin. It can become aggressive and spread to other parts of the body if not treated early. It often appears as sores or as raised bumps which can be mistaken for new moles.

Neither basal cell nor squamous cell carcinomas grow from existing moles. The fact that they are new growths is the primary indicator that they are malignant. They often bleed and don’t heal without treatment.



Melanocytes are cells in the basal layer of skin that produce the pigment that gives us our skin color. Uncontrolled growth of these cells is the cause of melanoma. Melanoma can develop from existing moles or from new moles. The growths can often brown or black, but may be other colors.

Melanoma can be very fast growing and is potentially fatal if not treated in its early stages.

Layers of the skin

Painful Moles on Your Upper Body

Painful moles can be located anywhere on the body. Those on exposed areas can be easily injured in day-to-day activities. Sometimes they can be injured repeatedly, such as a facial mole that’s cut every time you shave. Others can be irritated by cosmetics or exposure to weather conditions. It’s cause for concern if a mole suddenly becomes painful and you’re sure you’ve not injured it.

Raised Painful Mole

Moles are not typically painful. Normal moles can often be slightly raised. If your mole has become painful, first ensure that you didn’t injure it. If the pain occurs without external cause, then it’s potentially cancerous.

If your mole was flat and is now raised, or if your barely raised mole has grown, then it’s time for medical attention.

Painful Mole on Back

Because it’s not easy for most of us to see our back, we often don’t observe the early changes in moles. By the time a mole on our back becomes painful, the cancerous cells have potentially increased significantly in size and quantity. You need to have the mole examined by a dermatologist as soon as possible.

Painful Mole on Face, Neck, or Scalp

Moles on our face and neck are frequently irritated, because we shave and use cosmetics or skin care products on a daily basis. Moles on our scalp are subject to irritation from combing, brushing, and hair care products. If possible, try to change the way you care for your face, neck, or scalp to avoid repeated irritation. If any mole escalates from irritation to pain, or changes in any other way, it needs medical attention. You definitely shouldn’t try to ignore a mole by hiding it with cosmetics or changing your hair style.

Painful Mole on Legs or Arms

Sun screenKeep your skin protected from the sun to help prevent moles and skin cancer.

Although the exact cause of moles is unknown, experts believe that sunlight or other UV exposure can increase the number of your moles. Arms and legs are often uncovered, particularly during the summer, exposing them to excessive sunlight. The more moles you have, the greater your chances of developing skin cancer, especially as you age. Moles in these areas that change in color, size, or shape or become painful are potentially malignant and should be examined promptly by a professional.

Keep an Eye on All Moles

Painful mole Check-In

Most moles on most people are harmless and don’t need to be removed. You should simply check them regularly for changes.

If any mole shows any of the ABCDE changes or becomes painful, then consult a dermatologist as soon as you can. Early treatment is essential to keep skin cancers from becoming life-threatening.

You can find further details of Types of moles here.