Yes, what appears to be a purple pimple that bleeds just might be melanoma…

The term “pimple” is often used loosely, describing quite an array of bumps or tiny lesions on the skin.

So what may appear to be the type of pimple that many teenagers get may actually be something entirely different.

“Most common cause of a blood filled pimple is an angioma — a type of growth that’s genetic and filled with blood,” says Gary Goldenberg, MD, of Goldenberg Dermatology, and assistant professor of dermatology and pathology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

“These are more common as we age.” Angiomas do not really look like pimples, but they can bleed if irritated.

Angiomas. Shutterstock/Ocskay Bence

They are a striking reddish magenta color rather than purple. When viewing these, make sure the light is sufficient so that they don’t seem purple.

Don’t let the name angioma scare you. Not all “oma” suffixes refer to cancer. “Oma” means mass or collection.

So in the case of an angioma, it’s a mass or collection of vascularity (angio refers to blood vessels).

An angioma is sometimes called a hemangioma. The “hem” refers to blood: blood vessel mass.

“A cyst can also look bloody when popped of traumatized,” says Dr. Goldenberg.

What about melanoma?

“Skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma, can also present this way,” says Dr. Goldenberg, referring to what seems to be a purple pimple that’s drawing blood. “Most importantly, see your dermatologist and get checked!”

Nodular melanoma; looks like a pimple.

Nodular melanoma; looks like a pimple.

Dr. Goldenberg of Goldenberg Dermatology provides comprehensive care in medical and cosmetic dermatology, including melanoma and other skin cancer, moles, psoriasis, eczema and acne. He is the medical director of the Dermatology Faculty Practice, NY.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: Shutterstock/antoniodiaz