What does redness or swelling around a mole indicate and what should I do?

Symptom Database

Redness or swelling around a mole can be a cause for concern, as it may indicate mole inflammation or irritation. While not all cases of redness or swelling around a mole are serious, it is important to understand the potential implications and take appropriate action. In this article, we will explore what redness or swelling around a mole can indicate and what steps you should take if you notice these symptoms.

Understanding Mole Inflammation and Irritation

Moles are common skin growths that can appear anywhere on the body. They are usually brown or black in color and can vary in size and shape. While most moles are harmless, they can sometimes become inflamed or irritated, leading to redness and swelling.

Mole inflammation, also known as dermatitis, occurs when the skin around the mole becomes irritated or allergic reactions develop. This can be triggered by various factors, including:

  • Friction or rubbing against clothing or jewelry
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Chemicals in skincare products
  • Scratching or picking at the mole

When a mole becomes inflamed, it may appear red, swollen, and feel tender to the touch. In some cases, the inflammation may be accompanied by itching or a burning sensation.

When to Be Concerned

While mole inflammation is often harmless and resolves on its own, there are certain signs that may indicate a more serious issue. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention:

  • Changes in the size, shape, or color of the mole
  • Bleeding or oozing from the mole
  • Irregular borders or uneven surface
  • Development of multiple moles in a short period
  • Family history of skin cancer

These symptoms could be indicative of skin cancer, such as melanoma. It is crucial to have any concerning moles evaluated by a dermatologist to rule out any serious conditions.

What to Do if You Notice Redness or Swelling

If you notice redness or swelling around a mole, there are several steps you can take to alleviate the symptoms and promote healing:

1. Avoid Irritants

Avoid any activities or substances that may further irritate the mole. This includes avoiding tight clothing or jewelry that rubs against the mole, as well as harsh skincare products that may contain irritating ingredients.

2. Protect from the Sun

Excessive sun exposure can worsen mole inflammation. Protect the affected area by wearing protective clothing, using sunscreen with a high SPF, and seeking shade during peak sun hours.

3. Keep the Area Clean

Gently cleanse the area around the mole with mild soap and water. Avoid scrubbing or using harsh cleansers, as this can further irritate the skin.

4. Apply a Cold Compress

To reduce redness and swelling, apply a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the affected area. This can help soothe the skin and alleviate discomfort.

5. Use Over-the-Counter Remedies

Over-the-counter creams or ointments containing hydrocortisone can help reduce inflammation and relieve itching. However, it is important to follow the instructions and consult a healthcare professional if the symptoms persist or worsen.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If the redness or swelling around the mole does not improve within a few days or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention. A dermatologist can evaluate the mole and determine the appropriate course of action.

In some cases, a dermatologist may recommend a biopsy to rule out any underlying conditions. During a biopsy, a small sample of the mole is removed and examined under a microscope to check for abnormal cells.


Redness or swelling around a mole can be a sign of mole inflammation or irritation. While often harmless, it is important to monitor any changes in the mole and seek medical attention if concerning symptoms arise. By taking appropriate measures to protect and care for the affected area, you can promote healing and reduce discomfort. Remember to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and guidance tailored to your specific situation.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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