There haven’t been a lot of studies on halo nevus, which is also known as Sutton nevus. There isn’t a lot of information on the causes of it. Old wives’ tales say that it was the mark of the devil, link to previous lives, sign of good luck, location of an illness or disease, blessed by God, kissed by an angel, and ability to curse.
The location and size of the mole along with the time in history would determine the meaning in the medical community, none of these reasons matter. In some people, a mole will trigger an autoimmune response that causes the skin around the mole to depigment eventually overtake the mole. In rare instances the cause of a halo nevus is skin cancer, which is also known as melanoma.
The only problem with a halo nevus is that they can be cosmetically unsightly.
Halo Nevus Studies And Research
It is rare that the cause of this type of skin lesion or blemish is caused by a medical condition, so there aren’t a lot of studies done on them. Available research funds are usually used for other medical conditions. Some families seem to have more halo nevus than others, but it hasn’t been determined if there is a genetic link. People with Turner syndrome are more likely to develop halo nevus.
A recent study that is mentioned in Journal Watch on this type of skin lesion has shown the following results:
- Removal for melanoma is rare
- Persistent depigmentation without a residual nevus
- Partial repigmentation
- Cosmetic removal sometimes occurs
- Regression with halo
- Complete repigmentation can occur
The Formation of Depigmentation Around A Mole
Many people have moles, and some people have more than others. There are moles that people are born with that are referred to as a birthmark, and there are others that develop as people age.
In general moles are common. They are monitored and mapped because the first signs of melanoma can be moles that change in appearance, texture, and shape. It is not surprising that a halo nevus can cause concern of cancer though it is really quite rare.
In some people, a mole will stimulate the immune system and the resulting autoimmune response will be the skin around the mole and will become depigments turning whitish. Sometimes it will eventually overtake the mole and later the halo will repigment and match the surrounding skin leaving no trace of the halo nevus.
Some of the information known about the development of a halo nevus:
- No gender preference
- Onset begins in mid to late teens
- May last a lifetime with no changes
- Could run in families
- Commonly benign
- No race preference
- About 1% of people in the US are affected
The biggest fear is that it is a sign of cancer though it is not. When there are signs or symptoms of melanoma, it is important to consult with a medical professional.
Skin Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Only a healthcare professional can diagnose skin cancer and determine if the cause of a halo nevus is cancer. If melanoma is suspected, a biopsy is done and if there are cancer cells the cancer and surrounding tissue is removed. A mole that changes in color, size, texture, or bleeds is one of the symptoms of melanoma.
These are some of the signs of skin cancer according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Pearl or wax-like bump
- Flat scar-like lesion
- Solid red nodule
- Flat crusty or scaly lesion
- Large brown spot with speckles
- A lesion with an irregular border
- Swollen lymph nodes
Anytime cancer is suspected it is best to err on the side of caution and get checked. Early diagnosis is the key to successfully surviving any cancer. If there is not cancer present there is no reason to remove a halo nevus but some people choose to so for cosmetic reasons.
Cosmetic Removal of Moles, Blemishes, and Halo Nevus
No matter what the cause is, there are certain people who find the halo nevus unattractive to the point where they decide to have it removed. Any invasive medical procedure comes with risks that should be taken into account when choosing to optional procedures like cosmetic removal of a skin blemish or lesion.
One of the risks includes scarring that can be more unsightly than the lesion being removed. The removal procedure is often done in the office or as an outpatient procedure. A laser may be able to remove it, or it may need to be removed with a scalpel knife. The healing time can vary between 1-2 weeks with the scar taking several months to disappear.
As with any invasive procedure there is a risk of infection. The most serious type of disease is a staph infection that is resistant to antibiotic treatment, like MRSA or VRSA.
The wives’ tale that explain the cause of moles and skin blemishes like a halo nevus are more interesting and entertaining than the medical causes of this type of skin lesion, but the fact remains that they are a benign skin lesion that doesn’t commonly need any medical attention.