Soft, fleshy growths that hang from the skin are commonly referred to as skin tags. Acrochordons — as they are referred to within the medical community — are not cancerous. They are generally considered a cosmetic concern, not a medical issue. They rarely cause pain or discomfort. But many people find them unsightly and want to know how to remove skin tags. (1)
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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.
Moles are the result of the accumulation of melanocytes, or pigmented cells, in a localized area. Referred to as nevi, moles come in all shapes, sizes, and a variety of colors. Some may be very light and barely noticeable, while others are red, brown, or black, making them difficult to disguise. Typically, moles are considered harmless growths. However, they may present cosmetic concerns depending on where they are.
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:
Nope: Don’t cringe away from your friends or family affected with skin tags; they pose no threat to you whatsoever. Even though some skin tags may be caused by a virus (HPV), once the virus has embedded itself, it’s not going anywhere. “Viruses land on your skin all the time and the virus itself is minimally contagious because the skin is not a great habitat on its own,” notes Dr. Johnson. “It takes a special environment to give the virus a chance to infect our skin cell DNA. Once it has survived and embedded itself, the skin keeps it isolated so that the only result is the skin tag itself.” Here are the 37 worst pieces of advice dermatologists have heard.
Skin tags, medically known as acrochordons, are soft, skin colored flaps of skin that extend out from various parts on your body. They generally do not cause pain unless rubbed frequently or twisted, and are not a medical threat. Most doctors advise to leave skin tags alone unless you are intent on removing them. If you would like to remove your skin tags, you can visit your doctor’s office to discuss your options. You can also apply natural oils or mixtures to your tag in the hopes of drying it out until it eventually falls off. If you have a growth that is too firm to wiggle, is a different color than your surrounding skin, has raw or bleeding areas, or causes you pain, consult with your doctor immediately to determine if the growth is more critical than a skin tag.
Thankfully, this is far from true. While a lot of people worry that removing one will lead to more down the road, take comfort in knowing this is bogus info. Any additional breakout is because they were meant to spawn there. “One skin tag has nothing to do with another. Though removing one does not mean that you will never get another—as a doctor cannot prevent them from coming—it also does not equate to causing more to grow,” informs Dr. Shah.
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).
The cost to remove a mole is variable depending on the body location and nature of the mole. Some moles are best treated by excision with stitching. Flat moles that are not raised off the skin surface are a good example of this since trying to shave the mole could involve getting too deep into the skin and leave a "divot" or ice-pick type scar without suturing the area closed. Moles that are more raised off the skin can usually be shaved off but may also benefit from suturing to refine the scar/blemish that forms especially if on the face or other highly exposed areas. The cost will range from $200 - $350 depending on the technique used. One thing to always keep in mind is that a genuine mole should never be simply ablated, such as with laser, liquid nitrogen or radio-frequency without a biopsy being done first to ensure the mole is safe. Otherwise, an ablation type treatment may simply mask the remnants of the mole that is destined to form a melanoma.
Skin tags, formally known as acrochordons, are small pieces of flesh that protrude from your skin. They’re attached through a stem or stalk. Skin tags are most commonly found in folds of skin around your neck, armpits, and groin area, and usually appear in people of middle age. While these growths aren’t painful, daily movement can produce friction, which may irritate them.
Acrochordons can appear as early as the second decade. Typically after age seventy people do not develop new acrochordons. They tend to grow in areas where there are skin folds, such as the underarms, neck, eyelids, and groin. They are skin colored or brown ovoid growths attached to a fleshy stalk. Usually they are small, between 2-5 mm, but can grow to be several centimeters. Acrochordons are not painful but can be bothersome. People frequently complain skin tags get caught on clothing or jewelry.
We’ve all suffered from skin imperfections. They’re our body’s natural response to factors, including hormonal imbalances, poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle, and too much sun exposure. It is a normal thing to want to get rid of these blemishes, but store bought cures and remedies can be expensive. The best way to free yourself from these lesions is to educate yourselves. There are many “do it yourself” methods that will help clear up your skin while keeping your dollars in your pocket.
There are several scar remedies on the market, including Kinerase Scar Healing Therapy, Skin Medica Scar Recovery Gel, Mederma Skin Care for Scars, Avene Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream, Kelo-Cote Advanced Formula Scar Gel, and many others. These all have the common feature of covering a scar and providing a healing membrane during and after the initial procedure. These provide little or no benefit over petrolatum alone.
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.
One final cost is pathology to determine if the mole is cancerous or precancerous. This isn't usually necessary if the mole has been there a very long time. If the mole is new, has changed recently, or has other suspicious features like bleeding, your health insurance should cover the cost of removal and pathology. If you don't have insurance or if you prefer to have a mole sent even when it's being removed for purely cosmetic reasons, then pathology will cost an additional $125-200.
According to Live Science, a skin tag is basically just a skin growth that can be smooth or irregular. It may attach to the skin by a stalk. But Katy Burris, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University and board-certified dermatologist practicing at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, puts it simply: “A skin tag is a soft growth of normal skin that appears like a small tag. They tend to appear in areas of high friction, where skin may rub clothing or other skin.”