Can You Tell the Difference Between a Mosquito Bite and Basal Cell Carcinoma?

After spending several hundred dollars to get a biopsy on two spots on my chest it turns out they were mosquito bites. After being relieved that it wasn't skin cancer, I was surprised that you can't tell the difference. And I had told the nurse that I had bites several days ago and she said that wouldn't be it. Do they look that much alike?

Doctor Answers 4

Basal cell carcinoma has many different shapes and colors and presentations

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It is possible to quesiton a lesion as suspicious for a basal cell skin cancer when in reality it is a benign inflammatory condition. There is no dermatologist who can ever clinically diagnose lesions 100% correctly.  Basal cell carcinoma can be red and flat or just slightly raised but often somewhat translucent and occasionally bug bites can have the same color but the history helps distinguish the lesions normally. There are additional examination techniques including dermatoscopy that can aid a dermatologist in arrriving at the correct diagnosis but not all specialists are trained in  performing this procedure.

Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Did the dermatologist see it?

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Seems like more people are treated by PA and NP instead of a board certified dermatologist. The history and presentation of a basal cell is very different from a mosquito bite.

Mary P. Lupo, MD
New Orleans Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Mosquitoe Bite Mistaken for Basal Cell Carcinoma....Oops!

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Hi J,

Sounds like an aggressive dermatologist.  Basal cell carcinoma is present for some time before getting large enough to be noticeable.  Combining history and physical exam, bug bites should not be confused with skin cancers. The physician won't make any money patiently watching a bug bite resolve.  Sorry that you had to go through the expense of misdiagnosis.  Good luck and be well.

Dr. P

Michael A. Persky, MD
Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

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Basal cell carcinoma vs. mosquito bites

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Basal cell carcinoma skin cancers can be quite varied in appearance.  They typically have a somewhat translucent, "pearly" appearance, but can occasionally resemble scars or even malignant melanoma.  If they are inflamed, they might resemble bug bites.

By the time they are discovered, basal cell skin cancers may have been present for weeks to months.

Bryan K. Chen, MD
San Diego Dermatologist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.