How to Get Rid of Moles on Skin (2024)

Most moles do not need to be removed. However, if you have a mole that has changed in shape, size, or color, then it needs to be evaluated for skin cancer. You should never attempt to get rid of a mole at home.

Mole removal should always be done in a healthcare provider’s office. There are several techniques that can be used for mole removal, including excision (cutting) and shave removal. Mole removal aftercare focuses on preventing infection and scarring.

This article covers the various techniques that healthcare providers use to remove moles as well as what to expect during recovery. It also explains how to check your moles for signs of skin cancer, and when to contact your provider to have a mole checked.

What Benign Moles Look Like

How to Get Rid of Moles on Skin (1)

When Do Moles Need to be Removed?

Most moles are what dermatologists call "common moles." Common moles don’t pose any health risk. It’s important to understand when a mole could become a problem, though. Your dermatologist needs to evaluate a mole to determine whether it is appropriate to be removed.

If you notice a new mole or one that has changed in shape or size, see your dermatologist as soon as you can. The mole should be evaluated for melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Other possible signs of melanoma include moles that itch or bleed.

How Can You Tell If It's a Mole or Skin Cancer?

A helpful tool for evaluating your moles is the ABCDE test. Moles that meet any of these criteria should be evaluated by a dermatologist:

  • Asymmetrical: When the mole has an irregular shape and the two halves look different
  • Border: When the mole has an irregular or jagged border
  • Color: A mole that is uneven in color or changes color
  • Diameter: When the mole is larger than the size of a pea
  • Evolving: A mole that has changed in recent weeks or months

Is Itching Normal?

While itching is usually a harmless condition, an itchy mole could be a sign of melanoma. Even if you have been able to identify the cause of the itching, if you're at all concerned, see your dermatologist for a skin cancer check.

Dysplastic Nevus: When Atypical Moles Are Precancerous

How Are Moles Removed?

Mole removal should always be performed under a healthcare provider’s care. Talk to your dermatologist about which moles you'd like removed and if they have changed at all recently. Your practitioner will then be able to recommend the right mole-removal method for you. Mole removal usually takes place in the healthcare provider’s office and requires no downtime.

Surgical Removal

To surgically remove your mole, your dermatologist will numb the mole and surrounding skin, then excise (cut) out the mole with a scalpel. They will finish by closing the hole with stitches.

Shaving

To shave off your mole, your dermatologist will numb the area, then use a surgical blade to shave off the mole. This method is more common when your healthcare provider is not concerned about the mole being cancerous.

Testing for Cancer

Regardless of which mole-removal method you choose, your healthcare provider will most likely send the mole off to a pathologist to examine it for skin cancer. This is done by examining the mole’s cells under a microscope. Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider about any moles you would like to have checked.

Laser Removal

Some medical spas and beauty providers offer laser mole removal. Removing models should only be done by a trained physician. While this sounds like a quick and painless option, it comes with its own set of risks. When your mole is removed by a laser, it can’t be tested for melanoma. This means that your skin cancer could go undetected. But all moles, shaved or excised, must be sent to a pathologist to rule out cancer.

Laser mole removal can also change the cells underneath the mole. These cells will appear abnormal under a microscope and may cause a benign mole to lead to a false cancer diagnosis.

What Can I Do About Flat Moles on the Face?

A healthcare provider can remove flat moles on the face, but in most cases will only do so if the mole has turned into melanoma (skin cancer) or if new moles have appeared. Flat moles do not often turn into melanoma but should still be evaluated and removed. However, if the mole undergoes any of the following changes, reach out to a healthcare provider:

  • The mole changes color, size, shape, texture, or height
  • The mole feels hard or lumpy
  • The skin on the mole's surface becomes dry or scaly
  • The mole starts to itch
  • The mole bleeds or oozes

Recovery After Mole Removal

After your mole removal procedure, your healthcare provider will give you a set of instructions for keeping the affected skin area clean and protected. The best thing you can do for a swift recovery is to follow your provider's instructions closely.

If you have stitches or an open wound, you may be instructed to:

  • Keep the skin area covered with a surgical bandage for 24 to 48 hours after the procedure
  • Wash the wound regularly with water and a gentle soap then pat it dry with a clean paper towel
  • Apply petroleum jelly or an antibiotic ointment to the wound, depending on your provider's recommendation
  • Dress the wound with a new, clean surgical bandage
  • Continue to gently wash the wound one to two times per day

Even though mole removal is a minor surgical procedure, there are still risks involved, including the risk of infection. If you notice any signs of infection, call your healthcare provider right away.

Signs of infection may include:

  • Pus or cloudy fluid draining from the wound
  • A scab or yellow crust that is increasing in size
  • Increased warmth or redness around the wound
  • A red streak leading from the wound
  • Increasing pain or swelling
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Can You Remove Moles at Home?

Removing moles on your own at home is not recommended because of the potential complications. What appears to be a benign mole could be skin cancer. Removing the growth yourself could mean putting off seeing a healthcare provider who could diagnose and treat it early.

Infection is also a serious risk of at-home mole removal. Most of us do not have the same sanitizing capacities as our healthcare providers, leaving us open to bacteria and infection. An infection could result in redness, pain, and a thick scar.

Scarring is a concern with DIY mole treatments, and your healthcare provider may not be able to help once it’s happened. Cutting off a mole at home could also result in uncontrolled bleeding, which could mean a visit to the emergency room to stop the bleeding.

Summary

Most moles never need to be removed. However, a dermatologist may recommend mole removal if they think your mole should be checked for skin cancer. Mole removal is typically done with a cutting or shaving technique. You should never attempt to remove a mole at home.

Although mole removal is a minor procedure, it does come with a risk of infection. If you notice any signs of infection after the removal, such as pus drainage, a red streak, or increased pain, contact your health provider right away.

9 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. When is a mole a problem?.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What are the symptoms of skin cancer?.

  3. American Society of Clinical Oncology. Melanoma: symptoms and signs.

  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Moles: Diagnosis and treatment.

  5. American Cancer Association. Tests for melanoma skin cancer.

  6. Skin Cancer Foundation. DIY don’ts: Why at-home mole removal is a bad idea.

  7. National Cancer Institute. Common moles, dysplastic nevi, and risk of melanoma.

  8. Mount Sinai. Skin lesion removal - aftercare.

  9. Seattle Children's. Wound infection.

How to Get Rid of Moles on Skin (2)

By Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH
Madormo is a health writer with over a decade of experience as a registered nurse. She has worked in pediatrics, oncology, chronic pain, and public health.

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