What It Means When a Mole Grows Hair, According to a Dermatologist

April 20, 2024

Well_Good - What It Means When a Mole Grows Hair, According to a Dermatologist - Paul Curtiss, MD, FAAD

Moles—also called beauty marks à la old Hollywood actresses (or maybe even your grandma)—are completely natural. Even now, people will draw beauty marks onto their face as part of their makeup routine, to add some uniqueness and charm to their look.

Natural moles, however, are skin growths that appear as early as childhood, and can last throughout your adult years. They’re usually small, dark-colored spots that show up anywhere on your skin, and are often harmless. But what does it mean if your mole grows hair?

A hairy mole might feel concerning, but is it dangerous? Here, board-certified dermatologist Paul Curtiss, MD, FAAD with U.S. Dermatology Partners Carrollton, explains why moles grow hair, what it might mean, and signs that your mole needs to be checked out.

First, what are moles, exactly?

Moles are simply a collection of cells on the skin, says Dr. Curtiss. The medical term for this cluster of dark spots is melanocytes. Most people have anywhere from 10 to 45 moles grow on their skin in childhood and as teenagers, per the Mayo Clinic. Some of these moles may remain over time, while others may fade away.

“Melanocytes are normally distributed throughout our skin, and impart its natural pigment. It’s normal to have several collections of moles which develop early on in life,” says Dr. Curtiss.

Moles can literally grow anywhere—on your arms, face, ears, or even your butt! They’re usually nothing to be concerned about, but in rare cases, moles (including hairy moles) can become cancerous. Read on for the signs to look out for.

Why do moles grow hair?

Moles can either be hairless or hairy, usually depending on where on the body they develop. If a mole is on top of a hair follicle, hairs will grow out of the mole faster—similar to when there’s hair on a pimple.

“Moles are normal structures within our skin and don’t normally impede other structures in our skin,” says Dr. Curtiss. “As such, moles in normal hair-bearing areas (which are most areas of the body except for our palms and soles) may grow hair.”

Are hairy moles a sign of cancer?

First, don’t panic: A hairy mole doesn’t automatically mean it’s cancerous. Many people think straight away that it means melanoma (a type of skin cancer), but melanoma only accounts for 1 percent of skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Generally, a hair within a normal-appearing mole is not a sign of cancer,” says Dr. Curtiss. He says signs of a “normal” mole include the following:

  • Even color—either brown, tan, or black
  • Round or oval-shaped
  • Either flat on the skin or raised
  • Less than six millimeters (about ¼ inch) in diameter

Most moles are harmless and tend to stay that way. Even so, it’s important to know what skin cancer looks like. According to Dr. Curtiss, common signs of melanoma within a mole include the following:

  • An irregular or uneven shape or border
  • Differences in color (like it went from tan to brown or black)
  • Darkening within a mole (only a portion of it becomes dark brown or black)
  • Change in mole size

If you notice any changes in your moles or have a concern about new moles that have grown, talk to your doctor. They may suggest you get checked by a dermatologist to make sure your moles are benign.

How do you get rid of hairy moles?

The hairs that grow out of moles can easily be shaved, waxed, or plucked. (Just make sure the method you use is gentle enough that it doesn’t break the skin.) And in order to completely remove the mole itself, they have to be cut off, per Dr. Curtiss. Mole removal is a quick procedure done by a dermatologist—either for cosmetic reasons or to test if a mole is cancerous.

In general, moles don’t need to be removed, but if the pesky hairs are bothering you, removing the hair doesn’t pose any inherent risk, says Dr. Curtiss.

One method you shouldn’t try to remove hairs from moles, though? Laser treatment, Dr. Curtiss warns.

“Treatments like laser hair removal should be avoided over moles, as the laser may have trouble localizing energy to the hair follicle, instead [targeting] pigment within the mole.” Basically, instead of getting rid of the hairs, laser treatment might cause discoloration and make the mole look worse.

When to see a doctor

In general, you should see a dermatologist if you have any new moles, or ones that have grown or changed appearance. “While it’s normal for moles to appear during childhood, you should develop less new moles [as you age],” says Dr. Curtiss. “New moles after age 30 can be harmless, but likely should be checked out by your health-care provider.”

Ultimately, most moles are harmless, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you haven’t gotten a routine skin check from a dermatologist before, now might be the time to do it. They can let you know how often to come in and get checked, and whether your beauty marks are something to be concerned about.


Why do hairs grow thicker out of moles?
As Dr. Curtiss explains, moles don’t interrupt or impede other structures on our skin (i.e., our hair follicles). So when a mole starts to develop on strong hair roots—like on our arms or chin—thick and coarse hair strands can start to sprout through the mole. This is often why moles on your arms or legs have thicker hair growing out of them than those on your cheeks or stomach, where finer hairs grow.

Why do weird hairs grow out of moles?
While not necessarily “weird,” there are different types of hairs that can grow out of moles. And each mole hair might look different from the other, depending on where it’s located on your body. For example, you may have white or gray hairs growing near your hairline or on your chin, especially if you’re getting grays on other parts of your body. Black, brown, curly, or coarse hairs may also appear in other spots on your body, especially if your body hair is already naturally that way.

These differences in hair color and texture can also happen because of melanocytes—i.e., the cells that make up a mole’s pigment. This pigment can not only make the mole a certain color, but it can also make the hairs growing out of it a certain color, too.

Is a hair growing out of a mole good luck?
You may have heard the old urban legend that it’s good luck for hair to be growing out of a mole. This myth originated in China, with the premise that it will bring luck and fortune. Unfortunately, there’s no scientific evidence this is true, but it is a sign there’s a healthy hair follicle beneath the mole (which sounds pretty lucky if you ask us).

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