Moles are the highly pigmented spots of melanocytes. They are mostly benign. They change as a person ages. Many moles become larger or darker with time.
Moles can occur on any part of the body from scalp to soles of the feet and even on fingernails. They can become infected by scratching or irritating them in anyways.
Infection of moles can also occur due to the presence of a foreign organism such as fungus, virus or bacteria.
Signs Of An Infected Mole
A mole can get infected and the symptoms presented are:
- Redness and swelling
- Discharge of pus from it
What Is The Cause Of Mole Infection?
- The most common cause of infected moles is bacteria, the other cause being virus and fungus.
- Bacterial infection of the skin can be contained in the mole or can be widespread. If it spreads wide it is known as cellulitis.
Other reasons for infected moles are:
Scratching or picking on the mole can create an opening and allow bacteria to infect it. Bacteria, virus or fungus might also be present in the fingernail which gains access to the mole when it is scratched.
Abrasion or Wound to the Mole
A scrape or a cut to the mole can open up the skin making way for the pathogens to infect it. If the mole is present in an area where it is frequently disturbed, consider getting it removed.
Moles present in waist, underarm, groin, or along bra lines are easily irritated.
At times a mole involves a hair follicle. You may find a hair coming out of the mole which is not a serious condition. But if there is an ingrown hair, it would create a small wound from which bacteria could enter.
Anything which damages the skin on or around the mole leads to infection.
How Is An Infected Mole Treated?
It is good to see a doctor if you think your mole is infected and not improving. A bleeding mole which doesn’t heal properly can be cancer. A doctor can determine the right course of treatment or would be the best person to detect whether the mole is showing the signs of cancer.
An infected mole needs to be cleaned gently with soap and water several times a day. Keep it dry after it’s washed.
Application of antibiotic is not recommended as they can irritate the mole and lead to allergic reactions (1). The topical antibiotics can also make the bacteria resistant and lead to serious infections.
Keeping the area covered and clean can help the infection clear away in a day or two. For those who have diabetes or other condition which affects the immune system, you need to see the doctor right away.
Also if the mole is painful, swollen, bleeding or getting bigger consult a doctor as soon as possible. If a mole is showing signs of cancer the doctor takes a sample from it for biopsy or removes the mole completely.
Removal of a Mole
Moles are mostly advised to be removed if they are present in a place where it gets rubbed or irritated frequently.
The removal should be performed by a qualified doctor, a dermatologist or a surgeon. Trying over-the-counter medication or home remedies is not recommended as they can lead to infection.
How to Prevent Mole Infection?
There are few tips which can be followed to prevent the mole from getting infected.
- Keep It Clean: If the mole has a break in the skin, it should be cleaned frequently to prevent infection. Do a dry dressing to keep it from dirt and contaminants.
- Do Not Scratch The Mole: Scratching can increase the chances of infection, therefore, avoid the temptation to pick or scratch it.
- Removal: Consider removing the mole if it is present in the area where it is getting easily rubbed or irritated.
Though not very common, infected moles can happen. If home cleaning is not curing it, see a doctor.