What Is the White Ring Around My Mole?

Atypical moles and dark skin lesions can cause reason for concern, especially if they begin to change in shape or color. While moles that evolve can be a sign of skin cancer, not all changing moles are dangerous to your health.

A halo nevus—”nevus” meaning mole or birthmark—is a fairly common skin lesion that is characterized by a white or de-pigmented ring around a colored spot. These lesions affect about 1% of the population and are considered benign. However, due to their unusual, multi-colored appearance, halo nevi can sometimes look like atypical moles or skin cancer. In addition, their unique appearance has been connected to a variety of other health conditions.

According to Dr. Adam Mamelak, board-certified dermatologist, Vitiligo is common in patients with these halo moles. Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder where the skin cells cannot produce proper pigmentation. Dr. Mamelak says the same process that causes this disorder is believed to affect certain moles on the skin.

While loss of pigmentation around a mole is not typically considered a health concern, this atypical appearance can also be seen in some melanomas that lose their pigment. As a result, it is important to differentiate between a halo nevus and malignant melanoma, which can be difficult for dermatologists to do.

Aside from determining whether a patient has a halo nevus or malignant melanoma, Dr. Mamelak explains that a halo nevus can indicate the presence of a melanoma skin cancer in another location on the patient’s body. This is why Dr. Mamelak advises patients with halo nevi to undergo a full skin exam with a skin cancer screening.

Although having a halo nevus is typically just a cosmetic concern, you should monitor these lesions to determine if any changes have occurred. Just like with other moles, any changes in their appearance (like shape, color, or size) or possible bleeding or itching can be a symptom of skin cancer. If you are concerned about any moles you have and would like to undergo a skin cancer screening and skin exam, please contact us.