Red moles, also known as cherry angiomas or cherry hemangiomas, are small skin growths containing blood vessels. They appear as round red or slightly purple spots in adults age 30 or older. Though they can look like a small mole, they are not a sign of skin cancer.

Red moles can be flat or raised. They often exist without symptoms. Some may itch or bleed in response to trauma.

Some people have them removed because red moles affect the way they look. While there is often no medical reason for removing a red mole, it can be done quickly and safely by a healthcare provider.

This article describes red mole appearances, causes, and removal. It also explains how to protect red moles that remain in place.

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Red Moles Appearance, Location, and Texture

The characteristics of red moles can vary by individual but typically include the following signs:


  • Bright-cherry red color that appears as a blood mole on your skin
  • Colors of purple, blue, or black can occur in red moles that have little blood (often appear blue or black if they contain a blood clot)
  • Small enough to appear as a red dot rather than a bump
  • No difference among skin tones but more noticeable on lighter skin

Location and size:

  • Typically found on the chest, shoulders, or back of older adults but can appear anywhere
  • Rarely found on the hands, feet, or mucous membranes (lips, mouth, nasal passages, etc.)
  • Often appear in multiples but can be scattered
  • Size of a pinhead to about one-quarter inch (0.5 centimeter) in diameter


  • Typically a red, raised dome and rubbery texture but can appear flat at first
  • Susceptible to bleeding or irritation as a result of minor trauma such as shaving and scratching

Do Red Moles Need to Be Removed?

Red moles usually do not have to be removed for medical reasons. They typically are asymptomatic and benign. Red moles are regarded as completely harmless with no potential for cancer development.

You may choose to have red moles removed if they bleed after trauma or are in an area where they are often bumped or pulled, resulting in frequent bleeding. Removal may also be desired for red moles that irritate your skin, affect your appearance, or cause emotional distress.

Causes: Why Red Moles Appear on Skin

There are no specific known causes of red moles. However, research indicates that people with a family history of red moles are more likely to have them.

The following risk factors can also contribute to your chances of having red moles:

  • Aging: Red moles are most common in adults over age 30. They tend to increase in number as you age.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: An increase in prolactin (the hormone that stimulates lactation), which occurs in women after pregnancy, may increase your risk of having red moles.
  • Interaction with certain chemicals: Chemicals, including nitrogen mustard/mustard gas, cause serious damage to cell DNA, increasing the release of factors that trigger red moles. Exposure to bromide and 2-butoxyethanol has also been linked to the formation of red moles.
  • Liver damage and disease: Research indicates that the presence of cherry angiomas can be a warning of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Hot climates: The presence of red moles has been linked to living in certain hot climates.

Available (and Optional) Removal Methods

While most small red moles can remain in place without bothering you, the following methods can remove them with a low risk of complications:

  • Electrodesiccation: This procedure treats the red mole with an electrical current delivered by a tiny probe to the surface of the red mole. The current dries out the tissue to destroy the red mole.
  • Cryotherapy: This involves using a spray or swab to apply liquid nitrogen to the surface of the red mole. Liquid nitrogen works to freeze the red mole so it falls off.
  • Laser: This procedure uses a pulsed dye laser. The beam is concentrated on the red mole, which shrinks and disappears in reaction to the laser.
  • Shave excision: This involves the use of a surgical tool to remove layers of a red mole from the top portion of the growth. During this procedure, the skin underneath the mole is not penetrated.

Having red moles removed because they affect your appearance is classified as a cosmetic procedure, which typically is not covered by most health insurance policies. Check with your provider about the expenses involved in having an optional removal procedure.

What to Not Do With Red Moles

If you have asymptomatic red moles, they are usually fine left alone. Avoiding possible complications involves the following:

Do not attempt home removal of red moles by picking, scraping, or using over-the-counter mole removal products. Despite product claims, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any over-the-counter (OTC) products for the removal of moles and skin tags.

Do not shave over your red mole. A raised red mole is vulnerable to bleeding if you nick it during shaving. It can also increase your risk of causing an infection or scar.

Do not tattoo over a mole. Tattooing over a mole may prevent you from noticing any changes that could be early signs of skin cancer.

Do not spend time outdoors without protection from ultraviolet (UV) light, which is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers. For maximum protection, do not leave your house without the following:

  • Protective clothing
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher for all sun-exposed areas of your skin

Do not delay in contacting your healthcare provider if you notice any of the following changes in a red mole:

  • Bleeding
  • Changes in color, shape, or size
  • Sudden growth or appearance of many red moles
  • Scaly or crusty growth on your skin


Red moles appear as tiny red dots on your skin. They can be flat or round and raised. Though they often appear on your trunk, red moles can form anywhere. Red moles are not considered to be a sign or risk of cancer.

While there is no known cause for red moles, they occur more often with age. Other factors such as pregnancy, exposure to certain chemicals, and some health problems have been linked to the reasons they occur.

Most red moles do not cause symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to remove them due to problems with itching, bleeding, or their appearance. Do not attempt to remove a red mole yourself. Doing so increases your risk of infection and scarring.

While most red moles are harmless, alert your healthcare provider to changes in the size, number, color, or shape of red moles.

13 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.
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  10. FDA. FDA issues warning letters to three companies for selling unapproved drugs for moles and skin tag removal.

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By Anna Giorgi

Anna Zernone Giorgi is a writer who specializes in health and lifestyle topics. Her experience includes over 25 years of writing on health and wellness-related subjects for consumers and medical professionals, in addition to holding positions in healthcare communications.