The vast majority of moles are not dangerous. Moles that are more likely to be cancer are those that look different than other existing moles or those that first appear after age 25. If you notice changes in a mole's color, height, size, or shape, you should have a dermatologist (skin doctor) evaluate it. You also should have moles checked if they bleed, ooze, itch, or become tender or painful.
As far as other DIY methods for skin tag removal at home, such as applying apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, tea tree oil, etc., Geraghty notes that there's no compelling evidence to show that those therapies are effective. "You can't make tissue disappear by putting a little vinegar on it. It just doesn’t work... You really need that to physically be removed."
And here’s an interesting tidbit to know: “In typical practice, every single mole that is removed is also examined under the microscope, so often we may use the terms ‘mole removal’ and ‘biopsy’ interchangeably,” Jules Lipoff, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “Even if a patient is having a mole removed ostensibly for cosmetic reasons, it is prudent to evaluate the pathology regardless,” he explains. “We wouldn’t want to miss something.”
Have a surgical excision if necessary. If the mole is cancerous, or if it's large and covers a big surface area, it will probably need to be removed using surgical excision. After administering local anesthesia, the dermatologist will make a deeper cut to remove the mole and surrounding tissues, preventing it from growing back. The wound is then closed using sutures designed to leave minimal scarring.
But that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore skin tags. David Lorschter, MD, founder of Curology and a board-certified dermatologist in San Diego, notes there are exceptions. He says people with a genetic disorder called basal cell nevus system (BCNS) usually exhibit spots of basal cell skin cancer that look like — you guessed it — skin tags. Therefore, people with BCNS should have their skin tags biopsied and screened for cancer on a regular basis.
Tying a String. For an elongated skin tag, your physician may tie a sterile string around the base to cut off the blood supply, causing the skin tag to die. As skin tags do have a blood supply of their own and doing this technique improperly can cause excessive bleeding, it is not recommended to do this yourself. When deciding how to remove skin tags, there are other safe and effective at-home treatments you can try.
Moles are typically small, dark skin growths that develop from pigment-producing cells in the skin but they can be raised off the skin and very noticeable or they may contain dark hairs. The special cells that contain the pigment melanin are responsible for the brown color. They can be round, oval, flat, or raised. Most moles are brown, but colors can range from pinkish flesh tones to yellow, dark blue, or black.
Lemon juice is a powerful antiseptic, and it also contains citric acid which helps to dry out skin tags by decomposing the cells. Take a half of fresh lemon and apply the juice to a cotton ball. Apply this directly to the skin tag and leave it on without washing it off. You can apply this up to three times a day and continue the routine until the skin tag falls off.
Make an appointment with a dermatologist. Going about mole removal the safe way is a decision you won't regret. It's extremely important to have your mole examined by a professional rather than trying to remove it yourself, even if you just want it removed for cosmetic reasons. When you see a physician, he or she will be able to tell whether the mole is potentially cancerous. If it is, professional removal is the only safe method, since other methods won't adequately deal with the cancer cells.
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Most importantly, don’t take it upon yourself to decide that a growth is benign. At your dermatologist’s office, you’ll have a better shot at getting a solid read on what you have—and whether it’s an issue. And if you want it removed, most doctors will perform removal by freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery), cautery with an electric current (electrosurgery), or cutting with medical scissors (snip excision).
Moles are brown or black growths, usually round or oval, that can appear anywhere on the skin. They can be rough or smooth, flat or raised, single or in multiples. They occur when cells that are responsible for skin pigmentation, known as melanocytes, grow in clusters instead of being spread out across the skin. Generally, moles are less than one-quarter inch in size. Most moles appear by the age of 20, although some moles may appear later in life. Most adults have between 10 and 40 moles. Because they last about 50 years, moles may disappear by themselves over time.
Moles can be removed a number of ways, most commonly by numbing the area and then shaving them off or cutting them out and closing the area with stiches. The method of removal is determined by a number of factors including appearance, size, location, and type of mole. For example, if a mole is just bothersome because it is raised, shaving it flat is usually the best approach. Similarly, if a mole is abnormal appearing and small, it also is typically shaved. Conversely, moles that are growing irritated hairs are usually best treated with complete removal and closure with stiches. Moles can grow back after shaving (and occasionally even after removing and closing area with stiches).
Skin tags, medically termed as acrochordons or fibroepithelial polyps (FEP), are just a tiny benign bit of flesh that is typically connected to the underlying skin by a thin stalk. Yeah, gross. On the exterior, they look like minuscule bits of “hanging” skin that are typically taller than wide. These growths are seen in approximately half of all people and can form for a variety of reasons. However, they turn up more often during pregnancy, in diabetics, obese individuals, and those that have a family history of skin tags. They are also more common as you age—and men and women suffer them at about the same rate.
Apple cider vinegar can destroy the skin tag tissue so that it goes away completely. Take two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and soak a cotton ball with this. Apply it to the skin tag after completely cleansing the skin and drying it. Make sure to squeeze the cotton ball while you massage the skin tag so that the skin tag is saturated with the vinegar.
But there’s an even bigger reason you should visit an expert. After dermatologists remove a growth, they’ll look at it under a microscope. “There are things that look like skin tags but are cancerous,” says Dr. Rossi. That doesn’t mean you should freak out if you do find a skin tag. Most will just be benign, but you won’t know for sure until you’ve asked. Plus, checking a skin tag is a “good excuse” to get your doctor to check the rest of your body for skin cancer and atypical or malignant growths, says Dr. Rossi. Next, read up on these things you should never, ever do to your skin.
Be aware that home remedies are not supported by medical evidence. Most home remedies are based on anecdotal evidence, meaning that some people have tried these remedies and reported that they had success. However, treating a mole at home can be unsafe and high risk. The mole may be cancerous and this requires medical treatment. Make sure to talk with your doctor about your moles before trying any home remedies.
Doctors do not recommend that you snip off you skin tag yourself. "I see patients come into my office and you know they’re in pain because they've tried to clip the skin tags off themselves," says Geraghty. "Maybe part of it was left behind so it’s just having a hard time healing, or they’ve tried to do that trick where they try to tie dental floss or thread around it to strangulate the skin tag and end up killing part of the tissue but not the other, which is still hanging on. These patients will end up with a sore, red, inflamed, tender bump."
There is no evidence that removing a skin tag will cause more tags to grow. There is no expectation of causing skin tags to "seed" or spread by removing them. In reality, some people are simply more prone to developing skin tags and may have new growths periodically. Some individuals request periodic removal of tags at annual or even quarterly intervals.
Not sure if your skin lesion is actually a wart? Dr Yip explains how to tell the two apart: “A skin tag is usually soft and hangs off the skin with a narrow base. Warts are rough, scaly and raised bumps on the skin surface caused by viruses, therefore they can spread easily to other body areas and may be contagious to others.” If you can’t figure out which one has taken up residence on your body, it’s best to see your GP or dermatologist. Moles can also look similar to skin tags, so when in doubt (as some moles can be cancerous), it’s always best to get them checked by a skin professional.
Susan Besser, MD, a family medicine specialist with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, says that if skin tags “get large, change color, or become infected or ulcerated, you need to see your doctor. In those cases, it may not be a simple skin tag and further evaluation is needed.” By and large, Todd Minars, MD, of MINARS Dermatology in Hollywood, Florida, states, “Skin tags are harmless. If they do not bother you, then there is no need to treat them.”