Don’t even THINK about picking or scraping off that ugly or odd-looking mole that might be melanoma.
“You should not try to rub off a growth that you suspect could be a
melanoma,” says Dr. Janet Prystowsky, board certified dermatologist in New York, NY, with 25-plus years’ experience.
A melanoma will not easily come off. You will need to deliberately and fervently pick or scrape at it to remove some of the cancerous tissue.
A melanoma cannot accidentally come off while routinely shaving over it, routinely rubbing a sponge or rag over it while bathing, while inadvertently rubbing the area against something such as a seatbelt or tight doorway, etc. The removal would have to be on purpose.
And this is possible with “aggressive picking or scrubbing with a device such as a Clarisonic to get to raw tissue,” says Dr. Prystowsky.
“After healing you may not see the growth return. However, in the case of melanoma, cancerous cells may be in follicles and even be non-pigmented, giving the illusion that you successfully rubbed off a suspicious growth.”
Usually, a cancerous mole is as deep below the skin as it is high above the skin. So removing the surface of it, flush with the skin, will still leave the under-part of it. And don’t think of solving this issue by scooping out an area around it.
You STILL might not get all the cancer cells—because there could be microscopic branches of the melanoma extending deep into an area that your scooping missed.
And don’t trust your eyes; just because you can no longer see the black or dark pigment, doesn’t mean you cleaned it all out.
“The residual cells may multiply and grow more deeply into the skin and even spread throughout the body and be deadly,” says Dr. Prystowsky.
“Any growth that raises suspicion of melanoma needs to be biopsied to determine if it is melanoma. Any treatment decided upon will depend on what the cells look like under a microscope and how deep they are in the tissue.”
When a dermatologist inspects a suspicious mole or new spot, make sure he or she uses a dermatoscope.