When a new mole appears, or a previously stable mole begins changing, this could be an early warning sign of cancer. But what about when a mole disappears?
In this article, learn more about disappearing moles and when to see a doctor.
A mole is a collection of melanocytes, the cells that
Some melanocytic nevi are cancerous. They look like a mole but form when melanocytes
Moles can change over time, and some disappear altogether. When healthy moles disappear, the process is typically gradual.
Other changes that may occur include:
- hair growing out of a mole
- the mole changing shape and size
- the mole becoming raised
- the mole becoming darker or lighter
In most cases, a mole that vanishes is not cancerous. In some cases, however, cancerous skin lesions disappear after cancer has spread to another part of the body.
For this reason, a person should seek medical advice if they have concerns about changes to any mole.
The following images show some examples of disappearing moles.
The main reason why noncancerous moles fade and disappear is age. As people
Freckles also tend to fade when a person has less exposure to sunlight, for example, in the winter months. This is because they result from UV stimulation. Lentigo, while they result from UV exposure, do not fade when a person is out of the sunlight.
If a mole disappears in a younger person, it may be due to an autoimmune condition or pigmentation disorder.
Halo nevi are moles that develop a white ring around them, like a halo. The center of the mole is dark brown but becomes lighter in time as the skin loses pigment.
Finally, it may disappear completely, leaving a pale area where the mole was and possibly in the surrounding area.
The depigmentation and ring of lighter color will be similar whether a person has a light or dark skin tone.
Experts believe halo nevi occur when T-cells in the body try to destroy the mole as part of an immune response. It is unclear why this happens.
Halo nevi affect around 1% of people with light skin tones but can occur on any skin type and at any age. They may be more common in people with autoimmune disorders and conditions that affect pigmentation, such as vitiligo. Sunburn may also trigger them.
Halo nevi are not skin cancer, but some experts believe that adults who experience these changes may have a slightly higher risk of melanoma. They recommend seeking medical advice if these occur.
Sometimes, a cancerous lesion will shrink or disappear in a process that doctors call regression.
Very rarely, the disappearance of the lesion may mean there is no more cancer.
Often, a cancerous lesion that disappears
A person may also notice:
- uneven pigmentation
- changes in the appearance of blood vessels
- remnants of papules
- white bands across the area
Anyone who has an unusual mole that shrinks or disappears should see a doctor.
It is not possible to confirm if a mole is cancerous or not just by looking at it. However, a person should seek medical advice if they notice the following
- The mole shows one of the ABCDE alphabet signs of cancer:
- Asymmetric: Is the shape asymmetrical?
- Border: Is the border irregular and uneven?
- Coloring: Does a black or brown lesion have red, white, or blue tones?
- Diameter: Is it larger than a quarter-inch?
- Elevated: Is the surface raised?
- The mole is itchy, bleeding, or ulcerated.
- Other symptoms suggest cancer in other parts of the body.
However, many unusual or irregular-looking moles are not cancerous.
A person should see a doctor if they notice a new or existing mole that:
- has the ABCDE features (see above)
- changes shape
- changes color or has more than two colors
- becomes itchy or flaky
- is bleeding
- becomes bigger or more raised
Regular skin checks can help a person identify new lesions or changes in existing moles, including any on the soles of the feet or palms of the hands.
Taking photos of moles can help monitor any changes.
Moles often disappear, especially as people
If skin cancer is present, a doctor may recommend removing the mole. Melanoma skin cancer is highly treatable in the early stages.
If a person receives a diagnosis before melanoma spreads to other parts of the body, they are