Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can a mole become infected from scratching?"
I think I scratched at a mole in my sleep, and now it seems to be getting infected. Is this possible? What's the best way to treat an infected mole? Also, if this happens repeatedly, then should I just have a dermatologist remove the mole?
Moles are a very common condition. Most moles are benign and require no evaluation or treatment. However, given the abnormality of the mole you describe, I would strongly recommend seeing your primary doctor or a dematologist. As for your question, yes, moles can become infected. Just like any portion of your skin, bacteria, viral or fungal infections are possible. Bacterial infections of the skin, or cellulitis, are the most common and often caused by a break in the skin. Therefore scratching is a possible source for a cellulitis. Bacteria normally live on the skin so any break in the skin can allow the bacteria in. Red, warm or tender skin is consistent with an infection. This often requires antibiotics to treat so seeing your doctor is advisable. Another concern is if this could represent a change in the mole. The change may not be infection but a warning sign for cancer. Most moles are benign and cause no problems. However, moles can also represent skin cancer. Melanoma is a common type of skin cancer often confused with a mole. Change in mole color, ulceration or growth maybe consistent with a cancer and therefore. Other types of cancer, like a squamous cell, can often look like infections. A dermatologist can evaluate this lesion and potentially remove and /or biopsy the lesion for further diagnosis. I recommend you see your doctor.
Need more info?See a dermatologist today
Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.