Melanoma can cause a mole to hurt in a way that can be described as pain. However, other factors can also cause pain to come from a mole.

So how can you tell if the pain or hurting is being caused by melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer – or something harmless?

Well, sometimes you just can’t trust your layperson’s perspective.

“A normal mole can hurt if irritated,” says Janet Prystowsky, MD, board certified dermatologist in New York, NY, with 30+ years’ experience.

Dr. Prystowsky explains, “While a painful mole is a red flag, it is not necessarily skin cancer. Rubbing and scratching normal skin can hurt, so it’s entirely possible for the same to happen to a mole.”

A normal mole may be located in an area that gets the brunt of a scrape, such as from toppling over while inline skating and you don’t have knee pads on.

An elevated mole can get partially torn. It can also get snagged repeatedly by clothing.

You may be picking at something behind your neck, unaware that it’s an elevated mole, thinking it’s dirt or some kind of debris that simply needs to be scratched off.

Instead, your finger nail is repeatedly irritating a benign mole, making it painful.

“If you don’t know why your mole hurts, however, you should ask your dermatologist,” says Dr. Prystowsky. “It could a sign that your mole is potentially cancerous. Chronically irritating a mole is known to increase risk of it becoming cancerous.” When in doubt, see a doctor.

dr. prystowsky

In combination with her focus on early skin cancer detection and removal, Dr. Prystowsky provides a wide range of revitalizing and rejuvenating treatments.