Moles swell up and fall off
June 15, 2009 5:23 PM   Subscribe

I occasionally have moles that start to swell up, turn red, and then finally wither and turn black and fall off. What is this medical condition?

These are moles that I've had my entire life and then one day they will just change into the a bigger, redder, full of some fluid version of themselves.
posted by josher71 to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You should see a dermatologist for any changes to moles. It could be serious.
posted by moxiedoll at 5:26 PM on June 15, 2009

Possible skin cancer. Get to the doctor ASAP!
posted by 6:1 at 5:48 PM on June 15, 2009

These are moles and not skin tags, right?...because skin tags do that from time to time
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:57 PM on June 15, 2009

Well, I suppose I'm not all the way sure what the difference is between moles and skin tags.
posted by josher71 at 5:58 PM on June 15, 2009

Just adding to the see a dermatologist ASAP camp.
posted by ishotjr at 5:58 PM on June 15, 2009

But I think they are skin tags. They are upraised.
posted by josher71 at 5:59 PM on June 15, 2009

Moles are brown spots.
posted by moxiedoll at 5:59 PM on June 15, 2009

No, you have not had skin cancer your entire life. Good god people, is it alarmist day?

But skin diagnosis doesn't work so well from people typing words, so a dermatologist is probably a good idea. I don't see the urgency, though.
posted by rokusan at 6:03 PM on June 15, 2009

It's not alarmist to say that this person should see a doctor. This could be a condition that predisposes one developing skin cancer, and it's certainly not typical. It's definitely worth checking out.
posted by ishotjr at 6:04 PM on June 15, 2009

No, rokusan. He said he had moles all of his life. Now they are changing. Try re-reading.

Moles that change can be a sign of skin cancer.
posted by 6:1 at 6:05 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

No, you have not had skin cancer your entire life. Good god people, is it alarmist day?

You are a dangerous goofball. He had the moles his whole life (which tells me they probably aren't skintags). And now they're changing. And any change in a mole is a sign of melanoma, so he should have it checked.
posted by moxiedoll at 6:05 PM on June 15, 2009

yep doctor asap.
posted by sully75 at 6:09 PM on June 15, 2009

Moxiedoll: he just said he thinks they're skin tags. Speaking from experience, if you injure or disrupt the blood flow to a skin tag, it turns colors, looks scary, and needs to be removed.

Basically, we're all idiots taking shots in the dark. GTFDA.
posted by aquafortis at 6:19 PM on June 15, 2009

Can we see a picture?
posted by greatgefilte at 6:26 PM on June 15, 2009

Nthing the doctor. Also, please post photos... now that you've clarified they're skin tags, I've gone from being extremely concerned to incredibly curious.
posted by variella at 6:29 PM on June 15, 2009

Having had a melanoma scare in the past, I memorized the ABCDs of warning signs - Asymmetrical shape, Border irregularity, Color variance, and Diameter (6 mm or more). I really don't remember "falling off" as being one of those signs but that doesn't mean it isn't. Either way, if pieces of me started changing color and falling off, I'd get my ass to the doctor real quick.
posted by dead cousin ted at 6:37 PM on June 15, 2009

Moles do not turn into skin tags. If indeed you've had these moles all your life - and now they are changing - what the f**k are you doing asking strangers on the internet to diagnose your condition when it is soooooo easy to google what you are experiencing?!?!?
Just call your Dermatologist and eventually get back to us and let us know that you are ok.
posted by walleeguy at 6:46 PM on June 15, 2009

You are a dangerous goofball. He had the moles his whole life (which tells me they probably aren't skintags). And now they're changing.

I suppose one possible reading is that he had them his whole life and now they are changing. If that is true then I agree with the immediate doctor suggestions.

But that is not how I read that sentence in the original question, which says "...and then one day they will just change" meant to me that this is normal, this is what they always have done his whole life, that this is what they "will" do.

It's a confusing sentence that I read one way, and you read another.

It might be true that I am a dangerous goofball, but not for this reason. Thanks for the brush-splatter, though.
posted by rokusan at 7:14 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Skin tags on Google images. Moles on Google images.

Wiki on skin tags. ... a small benign tumor that forms primarily in areas where the skin forms creases, such as the neck, armpit, and groin. They may also occur on the face, usually on the eyelids. Though larger have been seen, they are usually between the size of a grain of rice and a golf ball. The surface of an acrochordon may be smooth or irregular in appearance. The acrochordon is often raised from the surface of the skin on a fleshy stalk called a peduncle. ... Skin tags are normally harmless, although they are sometimes irritated by clothing or jewelry and can interfere with shaving and other routine grooming. Very large skin tags may burst under pressure.

So while it's possible that you have a bunch of skin tags that are getting irritated enough to spontaneously die off, anything that odd happening repeatedly to your skin is best dealt with by a dermatologist. Do you have any of these raised bits that haven't self-destructed yet? Do you have medical insurance, or can you scrape together a few bucks for an office visit if you don't? Really, if you can't even be sure that what you're describing are moles or skin tags, any advice we give here won't do you much good.
posted by maudlin at 7:15 PM on June 15, 2009

To me this sounds like a really apt description of the life cycle of a pimple except that the OP claims they start as a mole.

See a dermatologist, I think.
posted by crinklebat at 7:18 PM on June 15, 2009

I agree with Rokusan's reading of the sentence.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:18 PM on June 15, 2009

If you were raised by/have contact with your birth parents - if they have many benign moles and skin tags then that's possibly what you're experiencing. (If you're not sure, now's the time to ask them!) Such things are often inherited traits, that will run in families. If such is the case then the dermatologist visit is the only way to be sure that these areas aren't something to worry about - it will be very hard for anyone but an expert to tell what they're looking at, and even then for some areas the only way to tell is a biopsy. (Speaking as someone whose mother has had multiple skin cancers removed in the past few years, I've gotten overly educated in "when do I worry about this spot?!")

If you're putting off visiting a dermatologist for any reason (medical visits can be expensive, hard to schedule, etc.) but are worried about it - you can always ask a general practitioner if you can more easily get in to see one. They can usually give the answer to "normal or see a specialist" question. (My doctor's given me a few "nah, don't worry" visits.) I'd say you're probably going to have to end up going to a specialist though. If the color change and fluid seeping thing is happening more often lately than previously then that's a sign you should probably get it checkout out, just in case.
posted by batgrlHG at 9:28 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oops sorry, meant "get it checked out, just in case" up there.
posted by batgrlHG at 9:31 PM on June 15, 2009

I have one of these on my hand and it's definitely a mole. It follows the pattern you list--swells up, turns read, withers, turns black and falls off (it also gets itchy when it's red, which you don't mention).

You should go to a dermatologist because this is one of the classic symptoms of skin cancer. Doesn't mean it IS skin cancer, just means you should get it checked out. The derm told me that mine is a photoxic reaction, meaning a sun allergy. I think this is a bunch of nonsense, and the cream he gave me didn't work one bit. I just know how to deal with it at this point--it happens once or twice a year and has been doing that for at least ten years.

Go to a dermatologist just to rule out anything bad.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:05 AM on June 16, 2009

A show of solidarity (and some maybe unsavory details): I've had these (moles that occasionally molt like a snake) all my life, too, and started worrying about them from an early age, but various GP's have kind of shrugged it off and told me to be extra vigilant about watching for unusual (for me) mole behavior. Last year I decided I had enough of the paranoia and had one of the frequent offenders biopsied. The results showed nothing unusal -- just a mole, I guess. However, I still haven't gotten any kind of answer from a doctor, including the dermatologist who removed and biopsied the mole, why my moles do this or what it means, if anything. If anyone knows something, I would really love to hear it.

aw, my very first metafilter TMI. it's a special day for every girl.
posted by mustard seeds at 7:01 AM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

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