Derm DMs: Why Is There a Hair Growing Out of My Mole?
Moles, birthmarks or beauty marks come in a variety of different colors, shapes and sizes. They can also have a hair (or multiple hairs) growing through the surface. I currently have one on my shoulder with a dark, coarse hair growing out of it and it made me wonder whether it should be a cause for concern. To find out, I asked board-certified dermatologist Dr. Robert Finney questions about hairy moles, including what causes them and how to get rid of them, if you so choose.
What is a mole?
To understand why some moles have hair on them, it’s important to understand what a mole is. According to Dr. Finney, a mole is a benign growth of pigment-producing cells called nevus cells. “They can be congenital, meaning present at birth, or acquired and appear in childhood or later on in life,” he says. Factors that contribute to the growth of moles are genetics, skin type and exposure to the sun.
Why do some moles grow hair?
“Occasionally a mole forms around or contains a hair follicle,” says Dr. Finney. “Because the mole has all of those pigment-producing cells, the hair it grows will often be dark and coarse.” Anyone can develop a mole with hair on it, but Dr. Finney explains that people with lighter skin types are more likely to experience a hairy mole, especially if they have a genetic predisposition for it or if they experience a significant amount of sun exposure. And while there is no way to prevent a mole from growing a hair if it’s located around or on a hair follicle, the good news is it’s harmless and very common. “At no point is hair a bad sign in a mole,” explains Dr. Finney.
What are safe ways to remove hair from a mole?
If you’re looking to remove the hair from your mole, the best methods are to either trim, pluck or shave the hair. “For a longer-lasting method, I tell patients to get electrolysis,” says Dr. Finney.
Whether you choose to remove the hair from your mole or not, make sure to get them regularly checked by your dermatologist and perform monthly self exams. “Moles will grow with patients, but once you reach adulthood they should not change significantly,” says Dr. Finney. Try using the ABCDEs (asymmetry, border irregularities, color variance, diameter, evolution) as a guide. “I always tell patients if they notice a change but can't be seen right away for whatever reason, to at least take a photo of it with a ruler next to it,” he says. “If they check back in with it and notice continued change, it must be seen — no excuses.”
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn