A mole can bleed if it’s been injured. A bleeding mole may also be caused by skin cancer. If a mole is bleeding and is also asymmetrical, has variations in color, has a poorly defined border, is larger in size, or has changed shape, be sure to see a dermatologist.

A mole is a small cluster of pigmented cells on your skin. They’re sometimes called “common moles” or “nevi.” They can appear anywhere on your body. The average person has between 10 and 50 moles.

Just like the rest of the skin on your body, a mole can become injured and bleed as a result. A mole might bleed because it’s been scratched, pulled on, or bumped up against an object.

Sometimes moles become itchy. The process of itching them can tear at your skin and cause bleeding.

The surrounding skin underneath a mole can become damaged and bleed, making it appear like your mole is bleeding. This could mean that the skin vessels underneath your mole have become weakened and more prone to injury.

You don’t need to worry about moles that bleed when they’re injured. However, moles that bleed or ooze fluid without being injured are cause for concern.

A bleeding mole can also be caused by skin cancer. If your mole is bleeding as a result of skin cancer, you may have some other symptoms that accompany the bleeding.

Use the acronym “ABCDE” when you look at moles to see if you should be concerned about skin cancer. If your mole is bleeding, check and see if you notice any of these other symptoms:

  • Asymmetry: One side of the mole has a different shape or texture than the opposite side.
  • Border: The mole has a poorly defined border, making it hard to tell where your skin ends and the mole begins.
  • Color: Instead of one shade of dark brown or black, the mole has variations in color throughout, or exhibits abnormal colors like white or red.
  • Diameter: Moles that are less than the size of a pencil eraser are usually benign. Moles that are less than 6 millimeters across are less of a cause for concern than larger ones.
  • Evolving: The shape of your mole is changing, or only one mole out of several looks different from the rest.

If you have a mole that’s bleeding because of a scratch or bump, apply a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol to sterilize the area and help stop the bleeding. You may also want to apply a bandage to cover the area. Make sure to avoid getting adhesive on the area of skin where your mole is.

Most moles don’t require treatment, but moles that continue bleeding need to be examined by a dermatologist. They can determine what’s going on and if you’ll need to have the mole biopsied.

Your dermatologist might recommend to remove the mole in an outpatient procedure at their office. There are two common ways they can do this:

  • surgical excision, when the mole is cut off the skin with a scalpel
  • shave excision, when the mole is shaved off the skin with a sharp razor

After the mole is removed, it’ll be analyzed to detect if any cancer cells are present.

Once a mole is removed, it usually doesn’t come back. If the mole does grow back, speak to your healthcare provider immediately.

The National Cancer Institute points out that very few common moles turn into melanoma. And when caught early, melanoma is highly treatable.

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you notice any changes in your moles. Be aware of any risk factors in your health history, like prolonged sun exposure, that might make you more prone to melanoma.