Halo Nevus | My Mole Has A White Ring Around It

Atypical moles and pigmented lesions on the skin can be a source of worry and anxiety, especially if they are changing. These moles could pose a significant health risk if they are confirmed to be cancerous. When moles start changing in color or appearance they should be evaluated. However, not all changing moles are dangerous.

Halo Nevus

halo nevus“Halo Nevi are relatively common lesions we see on the skin,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, a board-certified Dermatologist and skin cancer specialist in Austin, Texas, states. “They are found in about 1% of the population, and present with a very characteristic white or de-pigmented ring around a pink, brown or darkly pigmented spot.”

Nevus (plural nevi) is the medical term for mole or birthmark.

Although these moles are considered benign, they can cause a considerable amount of worry as their multi-colored appearance can sometimes mimic atypical moles or skin cancer. Furthermore, their appearance has also been linked to a number of other health conditions and diseases.

“We have seen Vitiligo in patients with halo moles,” says Dr. Mamelak. “Presumably, the same process that causes skin depigmentation in this condition also effects the specific nevi on the skin.”

“Differentiating halo nevi from malignant melanoma is one of the biggest challenges for dermatologists,” explains Dr. Mamelak. “On one hand, the loss of pigment observed in halo nevi is considered a benign skin change. On the other hand, some melanomas will undergo ‘regression’ and lose their pigment as well. This is where it get’s tricky. It’s sometimes difficult to tell the two apart.”

The relationship between halo nevi and melanoma doesn’t end there. Dr. Mamelak explains the presence of halo nevi may also be indicative of a melanoma skin cancer elsewhere on a patient’s skin. “I always recommend a full skin exam and skin cancer screening for any patient that presents with halo nevi. The halo nevus might not be a problem, but there could be another issue somewhere else on the skin.”

While benign halo nevi can be a cosmetic concern, it is important to pay attention to any changes in these lesions, just as you would with any mole. Changes in the shape, color, size or any bleeding, itching or irritation of a mole on the skin can be a warning sign for skin cancer.

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Dr. Mamelak practices skin cancer and Mohs micrographic surgery at Sanova Dermatology and the Austin Mohs Surgery Center. If you have noticed any changes in your moles, please contact us today a skin cancer screening and skin examination.

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