Some melanoma mimickers are other forms of cancer, but most are benign.

Many people will present to a doctor with what they fear is melanoma, when in fact, it turns out to be a benign condition.

But remember this: Many people who are diagnosed with melanoma had put off seeing a doctor, convinced that their “mole” or “pimple” was nothing to worry about.

It’s better to be overreactive to something you discover on your skin than to be underreactive.

Conditions that Mimic Melanoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma

BCC typically is a pearly white, flesh or pinkish color, but it may present dark if scabbed over.


Epidermolysis Bullosa Nevus


Exogenous Pigmentation

This means a spot on the skin from an external source. The image below very much resembles melanoma, but it’s actually a stain from black walnuts.



This term refers to a very tiny round scab, which can mimic melanoma if located on one’s back — preventing one from inspecting it up close.

When on an easy to inspect area such as the forearm, these do look like the scabs they are. They can remain for a few weeks or more before falling off.


Too graphic to post an image, but it’s a brown/black lesion that can affect the eye.

Onychocytic Matricoma


Pigmented Extramammary Paget Disease


Pigmented Fungiform Papillae of the Tongue (mimics oral melanoma)

Too graphic to post.

Pigmented Lichen Planus-like Keratosis


Pimple (can resemble nodular melanoma)


Reticulated Acanthoma with Sebaceous Differentiation


Seborrheic Keratosis


Dirty Mole

Debris can become trapped in the grooves or crevasses of a mole, creating a “new black spot” in it, which can look like melanoma.

11 More Conditions that May Resemble Melanoma

Here are an additional 11 conditions that can look like melanoma to the naked eye, according to Tejas Patel, MD, a board certified dermatologist with Reforma Dermatology in NYC.

Common Mole


Atypical Mole


Blue Mole

Dannii Brighton, CC





Spitz Nevus (Mole)

Rev Dermatol 2009


Pigmented Actinic Keratosis

Krizu,CC BY-SA


Pygogenic Granuloma

Kilbad at English Wikipedia / CC BY






Mohammad2018 CC BY-SA





Irritated Mole

A mole traumatized by being scratched or rubbed on by clothing may develop a reddish tinge or even bleed.

Dr. Patel treats all skin types and welcomes the most challenging skin problems. Dr. Patel specializes in both medical and cosmetic dermatology, and treats patients of all ages.
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/Motortion Films