The vast majority of skin tags are benign tumours but one study of 1,335 lesions found that four were basal cell carcinomas and one was a squamous cell carcinoma. Nevertheless, the authors suggest that the malignancy potential of skin tags is low. Patients experience few, if any, problems with skin tags although pruritus and discomfort can occur if the lesions are snagged by jewellery.
Reducing skin friction — like, not wearing necklaces that can rub on the skin — can help keep new tags from developing, says Nguyen, who adds that removed skin tags don’t typically grow back, though new ones may grow in the same general area where tags have previously popped up. A healthy diet and lifestyle can help keep blood sugar level low, which may also help prevent skin tags from forming.
"If the skin tags are a little bigger or they have more of a thicker stalk at the bottom, then I like to just do a miniature injection of lidocaine to numb the skin and just snip them right off with some very sharp sterile scissors. It only takes a second to do," says Geraghty. "Even with that method I usually do a little bit of cautery after to burn the base because these skin tags have their own blood vessel supply. Burning the base also puts a little scab on it."
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.”
Your dermatologist may become concerned if one of your moles has changed shape or color, as this may be an indicator of skin cancer. Most moles are less than a ¼-inch in size, so any mole that is larger should be checked by your doctor. Identifying and treating skin cancers early helps avoid spreading of the cancerous cells to other parts of the body. Uncommon moles, also called dysplastic nevi, may:
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.
Then, your doctor will clean the surface of your skin, usually with an alcohol pad, and inject the area with local anesthesia like lidocaine, Dr. Lipoff says. “This should be the only part with any discomfort,” he adds. “There may be a pinch and a burn.” After that, the anesthesia should kick in, and your mole plus the surrounding area should be nice and numb.
But skin tags are generally benign, so I’ll probably just live with it. The same way I live with the ones on my genitals — a story I can now look back on and laugh at. Skin tags. I thought I’d contracted some disease as yet unknown to science, but really, I had skin tags. No wonder that poor ob-gyn almost laughed me out of the stirrups. Because if there’s one things that’s true, it’s that about half of us have skin tags — whether you can see them or not.
Other skin conditions such as warts and moles can resemble skin tags. Since some moles may be cancerous, it’s best to have your skin tags examined by a doctor. Your dermatologist or family doctor will be able to diagnose skin tags. They’ll likely do this through a visual exam. If they have any doubt about the diagnosis, they may also perform a biopsy.