Q: Can a cancerous mole cause pain below the skin?
A: The answer to this is a bit tricky. Moles, or melanocytic nevi, can sometimes be painful even if nothing is wrong. In some cases, a normal benign mole will have a pimple forming directly beneath it, which can get temporarily stuck. This can cause more pain and take longer to clear up than a normal pimple because it can’t easily travel to the surface. Moles may get accidentally scratched and can become sore and inflamed. So, a painful mole is not always a sign of danger. And cancerous moles are often not at all painful. But some moles that become cancerous, which, in the case of a pigmented mole, means melanoma, can be accompanied by pain or unusual sensitivity different from the surrounding skin. So the best bet is, if a mole becomes painful and doesn’t get better in a few days or a week, see your dermatologist for an evaluation just to make extra sure. It’s always nice to get good news if everything is fine.
Jessica Krant, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist who practices in New York City. She is an assistant clinical professor in dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and is highly involved in public health education. Dr. Krant also serves as the sole delegate to the American Medical Association representing dermatologic surgeons and their patients nationwide.