Older Than 30? You Might Start Noticing These Moles on Your Skin


You’re applying some lotion after a shower and notice a tiny red bump on your shoulder. It’s not a pimple, and you haven’t been bitten by any bugs recently. As you take a closer look in the mirror, you realize it looks like a mole.

Yep, red moles are a thingโ€”they’re called cherry angiomas. You may notice them pop up out of nowhere on your back, arms, chest, or really anywhere on your body.

Here, a dermatologist explains what causes red moles on your skin (hint: hormones), what they could mean about your health, and whether you should get them removed.

First, are red moles dangerous?

Good news: Cherry angiomas are not dangerous. They are considered benign, asymptomatic skin growths or bumps, according to Celeste Durham, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist with U.S. Dermatology Partners South Hulen in Fort Worth, Texas.

โ€œ[Cherry angiomas] are composed of cells that line blood vessels, specifically capillaries,โ€ says Dr. Durham. โ€œThey range in size from 1 millimeter to sometimes larger than 1 centimeter,” she adds.

Cherry angiomas get their bright red color from blood, but will occasionally turn into dark red moles on the skin when blood cells get clogged up. Still, they are not harmful, Dr. Durham says.

โ€œThese lesions are mostly asymptomatic, meaning that they do not itch, hurt, or bleed easily,โ€ she adds.

Cherry angiomas can happen in people of any age or sex, but certain people are more likely to get themโ€”more on that next.

What causes red moles on the skin?

Big shifts in hormones (like the changes that happen during and after pregnancy) may cause red moles to grow on your skin, says Dr. Durham.

โ€œSometimes pregnant women will get numerous cherry angiomas,โ€ she says. According to Dr. Durham, this is likely due to elevated prolactin levels that happen during and shortly after pregnancy. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for lactation and milk production for breastfeeding, per the Cleveland Clinic, which could explain why some people get cherry angiomas after they’ve given birth.

Other common causes of cherry angiomas include the following, per Dr. Durham:

  • Aging (they often develop after age 30)
  • Genetics (you may inherit a certain genetic mutation that causes them, per the Cleveland Clinic)
  • Exposure to certain chemicals or harsh irritants

Should red moles be removed?

It’s not really necessary to remove cherry angiomas because they are benignโ€”meaning they are harmless. But if their appearance is bothering you, or if many of them show up in a short amount of time, you shouldย see a dermatologist and have them checked out, says Dr. Durham.

There are some common skin conditions that are red like cherry angiomasโ€”like spider veins or non-cancerous skin growths. Other times, cherry angiomas can look similar to certain skin cancers like melanoma.

โ€œA dermatologist is usually able to easily distinguish these conditions from cherry angiomas,โ€ adds Dr. Durham. โ€œRarely, a biopsy may be needed to distinguish a cherry angioma from a malignancy. If you are concerned, see a board-certified dermatologist for a skin examination.โ€

While it’s not always necessary to get red moles removed, you have a few removal options if you’re looking to get rid of them for cosmetic reasons. These include:

  • Cryotherapy (freezing off the moles with a cold gas)
  • Electrosurgery (burning off moles with a very hot tip)
  • Laser treatment

Just keep in mind: Getting them removed doesn’t guarantee they won’t come back. โ€œOftentimes even after removal they will recur and more can grow,โ€ says Dr. Durham.

โ€œ[Cherry angiomas] are mostly asymptomatic, meaning that they do not itch, hurt, or bleed easily.” โ€”Celeste Durham, MD, dermatologist

Can you prevent red moles from appearing?

Because cherry angiomas are natural growths that come from aging, genetics, and hormone changes, they likely can’t be prevented or controlled.โ€œThere’s no prevention of these lesions, as they are thought to be genetically predisposed,โ€ says Dr. Durham.

That said, because chemical exposure is one potential cause, per the Cleveland Clinic, you can try to avoid contact with certain substances, including the following:

  • Nitrogen mustard (a medication used to slow the growth of cancer cells)
  • Bromides (a drug usually found in sedatives)
  • Butoxyethanol (a chemical commonly found in cleaning products)

And ultimately, practicing healthy skin-care habits (like consistently wearing sunscreen) is the best way to safeguard your skin and prevent skin cancer.

When to see a doctor

Bottom line: Cherry angiomas are fairly common and completely harmless, though it’s totally normal to feel concerned about your skin health from time to time. If you’ve developed a cherry angioma all of a sudden (or several of them), and you’re worried, ask your doctor about it. They can determine whether you should see a dermatologist for a closer look.

You should also see your doctor if any moles or lesions start to hurt, bleed, or form pus, says Dr. Durham. These can be signs of an infection or a more serious condition that needs to be treated.

FAQ

Is it normal to grow red moles?

Yes, red moles on the skin are normal and natural. Like many regular moles, red moles are often genetic, due to aging, or form after a major shift in hormones. Red moles also commonly grow after age 30, according to Mount Sinai.

Some women may notice more red moles on their skin during pregnancy or after they’ve had a baby, due to hormone fluctuations. Though according to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s possible for some red moles to reduce in size or even go away after giving birth.

Are red moles caused by stress?

Stress is not a known cause of cherry angiomas. They are typically caused by aging, genetics, and chemical exposure. That said, cherry angiomas may be a source of emotional distress if they affect your self-esteem or how you view your body, per Mount Sinai. If this is the case, you can work with your dermatologist to have them removed for cosmetic purposes, or you can talk with a therapist and work on embracing your imperfections and flaws (which make you uniquely you!).

Can you get rid of red moles on your skin naturally?

While some information online says you can remove red moles with at-home treatments, there’s no scientific evidence that “natural remedies,” like essential oils, can get rid of red moles. It’s also not recommended to try to get rid of cherry angiomas at home, either. (Basically, don’t try to play doctor and remove them yourself.)

If you’d like your red moles removed, or are concerned about whether they are benign or not, talk to your doctor about removal options like cryotherapy or laser treatments.



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