A mole is a collection of melanocytes, the cells that give skin color. This high concentration of melanocytes in one area creates a raised, dark bump often known as a mole. Some moles can be cancerous, but typically, a preexisting mole will not suddenly become cancerous. About 70% of skin cancer occurs in a newly formed mole.
This is why many dermatologists will tell you to monitor your skin for abnormal and new moles, as they can be a sign of cancer. However, what if the opposite happens? If you have a mole and one day it’s not there anymore, is that cause for concern?
The Evolution of Moles
Normal healthy moles may change over time. Sometimes, the moles can completely disappear. When a normal and healthy mole disappears, it usually happens very gradually.
Moles can go through other normal changes throughout your life, such as:
- The mole may slightly change shape.
- The mole may begin to grow new hairs.
- The mole can become more raised.
- The mole can either darken or lighten in color, sometimes to the point of disappearing.
In almost all cases, a mole that disappears does not signal cancer. However, in rare cases, a mole or group of moles that suddenly disappear can signal cancer that has spread away from the skin to another part of the body.
This is why any changes in your skin growths or moles should be monitored and noted by your doctor.
Why Do Moles Disappear?
There’s a variety of reasons a mole can vanish. Most commonly, moles vanish with age. As we age, our body loses some of our melanocytes, which may cause a mole to naturally lighten. Freckles, typically found on the face, chest, and shoulders can fade when the person has less exposure to UV light, such as during the winter.
A follow-up examination may be necessary if a mole suddenly disappears in a very young person. This can be a sign of an autoimmune disorder or an issue with skin pigmentation.
Halo nevi are moles that develop a white ring around them, hence the name. Slowly, this white ring will encroach on the colored part of the mole until it fades away. Halo nevi typically leave behind hypopigmentation, which is a lack of color in the skin where the mole once was. The skin will be even lighter than the natural skin tone.
Halo nevi are not inherently cancerous, but some research shows adults who experience these kinds of moles may have a higher risk of skin cancer.
In short, moles can disappear over time. Most commonly, moles that gradually disappear are not a signal of cancer or another serious disease. Most often, moles lighten or vanish due to natural aging processes. However, in rare cases, a suddenly vanishing mole can point to cancer, autoimmune conditions, and more. So, it’s always important to consult a doctor about any new skin changes you experience.