Moles on the skin come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
The vast majority of moles are harmless. However, everybody should be vigilant for changing or unusual moles which can be sign of dangerous melanoma (a form of skin cancer), requiring urgent treatment. This issue is dealt with in a past article The Facts About Moles.
For most moles, the main concern is their appearance, which depending on the location and presentation of the mole, can be for a wide variety of reasons unwelcome.
Perhaps the worst kind of mole, aesthetically, is one that appears on the face and has hair sprouting. Often the hair can grow longer or thicker or even a different colour to the surrounding area, attracting further attention.
Many patients do not understand how to deal with the problem and are rightfully cautious about any treatment for the mole, which means that the hair continues to grow unchecked.
Here are a few common questions about hairy moles to explain the problem.
Why do Moles Grow Hairs?
Moles are made of skin cells and share many of the properties including the potential to grow hair. Hairy moles tend to appear in areas where hair is prone to grow i.e. the chin and upper lip (this applies to women as well as men). These areas have strong hair roots, so growth can be surprisingly fast and thick.
It is not of any medical concern, but we do understand that patients do not like the look of it.
Is it safe to remove hair from a mole?
There is no evidence to suggest that removing hairs from moles is harmful in any way. Most moles are not ‘cancerous’ and do not have the potential to become so.
However, it is sensible to treat this area with some caution to avoid sensitivity which could cause redness or swelling.
Plucking with tweezers is the most common method of mole hair removal. Many men shave over moles on a daily basis and this causes no harm. Depending on the area, waxing may be considered.
If the mole is raised, then it is sensible to avoid any activity that could damage the mole.
Can I use laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal using traditional lasers is not effective, as traditional IPL seeks out dark hair against light skin in order to destroy the hair follicle. In the case of a mole, the skin is already dark so the hair will not contrast against it.
However, advanced laser technology such as the Soprano system can be used on dark hair and skin and may be suitable for removing hair on moles. Check with a trained laser hair removal therapist and ensure you have a test patch prior to treatment.
What about electrolysis?
Again, there is no evidence that using electrolysis can cause any harm to your mole. Removing hair from a mole is unlikely to disrupt the cells. It is actually far more dangerous to sit in the sun without sunscreen!
For ugly, hairy moles; mole removal is the fastest and most comprehensive solution. This will remove the mole and the hair all in one go.
Mole removal is a very simple and quick procedure with a trained doctor, requiring just a local anaesthetic. There will be a tiny scar after healing which will have normal skin characteristics i.e. will not regrow the thick/long mole hair.
Laser mole removal or surgical techniques are available in the private sector. Unfortunately the NHS consider mole removal to be a cosmetic procedure unless there is a medical concern in which case it should be covered on the NHS as a priority. If not, then private clinics offer a good service.
Learn more about mole removal in this previous blog post: Understanding Mole Removal for Patients.Options and Techniques.