If you have concerns about an infected mole, understanding the potential causes can help you make an informed decision when seeking medical attention. It's important not to ignore any changes in the appearance or behaviour of your skin, especially when it comes to atypical moles.
An infected mole can be caused by various factors, such as bacterial or viral infections, injury or trauma to the area, or preexisting skin conditions. Prompt medical attention is crucial in treating an infected mole, as untreated infections can lead to more serious health issues.
In this article, we'll explore the possible causes of infected moles and offer advice on how to manage them.
Before discussing mole infections and their causes, it is important to understand what a mole is. Did you know that medical terminology for moles is melanocytic naevus? The majority of moles are harmless. When a mole is present from birth, it is referred to as a birthmark. They are small, coloured patches of skin. Almost every person has one of them, and unless they alter in size, form, or colour, they normally pose little threat. Depending on the type of skin, they appear in a variety of sizes, colours, and shapes. Sometimes they can get infected, and cause various of different symptoms. In the next sections, we will discuss how they can be affected, what are signs and symptoms and when to consult a specialist.1
How do moles become infected?
So how do moles get infected? Moles, also known as nevi, are usually harmless skin growths that occur when cells in the skin called melanocytes cluster together. If bacteria or fungi enter the skin through a break in the skin barrier, such as a cut or scratch, moles can become infected.
In the pathophysiology of an infected mole, microorganisms invade and cause an inflammatory response in the skin. The skin becomes red, swollen, and painful, and the surrounding area may feel warm to the touch. In response to the infection, the body's immune system sends white blood cells to the affected area to fight it.
If left untreated, the infection can spread to surrounding tissues and even the bloodstream, causing more serious health problems. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect that your mole has become infected.2
Causes of infection
Infected moles can develop as a result of a variety of factors, including bacterial and fungal infections, as well as skin trauma. An infected mole's pathogenesis is similar to that of other skin infections in that the skin barrier is breached and microorganisms invade the skin.
Skin infections are frequently caused by bacterial infections such as:
These two bacteria are most commonly associated with skin infections. they can enter the skin and cause an infection through breaks in the skin barrier, such as a cut or scratch. The infection has the potential to spread to surrounding tissues, causing inflammation and redness. In some cases, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause sepsis(the body’s extreme response to infection), a serious condition.
Fungal infections can also cause atypical moles. The most common fungal infection associated with skin infections is dermatophytosis. This infection can occur in the hair, nails, and skin, including moles. The fungi responsible for this infection can enter the skin through small cracks or cuts in the skin. The infection can transform a normal mole into an atypical mole with symptoms such as redness, itching, and scaling of the affected area.3
Trauma to the skin, such as scratching or rubbing, can also lead to an atypical mole. This can create a break in the skin, allowing bacteria or fungi to enter and cause an infection. In addition, trauma can also cause bleeding, which can provide a medium for bacterial growth and infection.4
Who is at risk for skin infections?
These are the factors that can increase a person's risk for a skin infection:
- Poor circulation
- Advanced age
- Immune systems diseases, such as HIV/AIDS
- Immunosuppressive medications or chemotherapy
- Prolonged immobility or bed rest due to illness or paralysis
- Obesity, which can lead to excessive skinfolds5
Treatment for mole infection
Discussion of the diagnosis is necessary before moving on to treatment. Medical professionals will perform a physical examination and enquire about your symptoms to identify a skin infection. A cancerous mole must first be ruled out. After that, you might undergo a skin culture or other types of lab tests. A sample of your skin will be used in this test to determine the type of infection you have. Swabbing, scraping, or removing a small piece of skin may be used by your healthcare provider to obtain the sample (biopsy). In some cases, medical professionals use additional tests, like blood tests.5
The type of infection and its severity both influence the course of treatment. Some infections will naturally disappear. If you do require treatment, it might involve applying a cream or lotion to your skin.
if bacterial infection led to mole infection treatment usually involves
- applying an antibiotic ointment to the affected area
- take antibiotics orally or receive them through injection
For abscesses (pus that is painfully collected and is typically brought on by bacteria), it is important to seek medical attention as a doctor may need to perform a procedure to drain the abscess and remove any dead tissue through surgery.6
If fungal infection led to atypical moles and infections, treatment will require:
- Applying an anti fungal cream to the affected area
- Take anti fungal drugs orally
Antifungal medications, which can be applied directly to the affected area, can be found in creams, gels, lotions, solutions, shampoos, and more. The best form for your infection will be determined by your doctor.
In addition to taking medication, people can use powders to prevent moisture in the affected areas.
Corticosteroids should only be used under the supervision and prescription of a doctor. They may be useful in reducing inflammation and itching linked to specific infections.7
How to prevent mole infection
Here are some tips to prevent moles from getting infected:
- Avoid scratching or picking at moles to prevent injury to the skin
- Wear clothing that covers moles when spending time outdoors, especially during peak sun hours
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher when spending time outside
- Monitor moles for any changes in size, shape, or colour, and report any changes to a healthcare professional
- Seek medical attention promptly if a mole becomes inflamed, painful, or exhibits signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, or drainage8
When to seek a dermatologist?
It is important to seek medical attention from a dermatologist if you suspect that a mole has become infected or if you notice any changes in the appearance of a mole. Here are some specific situations in which you should consider seeing a dermatologist:
- Normal mole: If a normal mole becomes inflamed, painful, or begins to bleed, it may be a sign of infection and requires medical attention
- Atypical mole: Atypical moles, which are moles that exhibit unusual features such as asymmetry, irregular borders, or varying colours, may require monitoring or removal to prevent skin cancer
- Cancerous mole: If a mole shows signs of skin cancer, such as rapid growth, irregular borders, or changes in colour or texture, it is important to seek prompt medical attention
- Atypical moles: Individuals with atypical moles may require regular monitoring by a dermatologist to detect any changes that could indicate skin cancer
- Risk factors: People with risk factors for skin cancer, such as a history of sunburns or a family history of skin cancer, should also consider seeing a dermatologist for mole evaluation9
Moles are a common skin growth that most people have. While infected moles are not common, they can occur. If home remedies do not heal an infected mole promptly, it is important to seek medical attention from a doctor. Changes in a mole may be an early sign of developing skin cancer, so it is crucial to have any mole-related issues evaluated by a medical professional.
- Moles (Melanocytic naevi, pigmented nevi) | dermnet [Internet]. [cited 2023 Mar 1]. Available from: https://dermnetnz.org/topics/melanocytic-naevus
- CDC. Suffering from a skin infection? [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021 [cited 2023 Mar 1]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/skin-infections.html
- Aly R. Microbial infections of skin and nails. In: Baron S, editor. Medical Microbiology [Internet]. 4th ed. Galveston (TX): University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; 1996 [cited 2023 Mar 1]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK8301/
- ehera B, Bhoriwal S, Mathur P, Sagar S, Singhal M, Misra MC. Post-traumatic skin and soft tissue infection due to Aeromonas hydrophila. Indian J Crit Care Med [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2023 Mar 1];15(1):49–51. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3097544/
- Skin infections [Internet]. [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/skininfections.html
- Overview of bacterial skin infections - skin disorders [Internet]. Merck Manuals Consumer Version. [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/skin-disorders/bacterial-skin-infections/overview-of-bacterial-skin-infections
- Overview of fungal skin infections - skin disorders [Internet]. Merck Manuals Consumer Version. [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/skin-disorders/fungal-skin-infections/overview-of-fungal-skin-infections
- Moles: Who gets and types [Internet]. [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/moles-types
- Atypical moles [Internet]. The Skin Cancer Foundation. [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from: https://www.skincancer.org/risk-factors/atypical-moles/