Determine whether a biopsy is needed. At your appointment, the doctor will examine your mole's shape, borders, size, color, and surface texture, to see whether it appears to be cancerous. If the mole exhibits common symptoms of melanoma or another type of skin cancer, the doctor will order a biopsy to test whether cancer cells are present. If it doesn't, the doctor will be able to go ahead and remove the mole. The sample will often be sent for analysis even if the mole does not appear to be cancerous.
Cindy Crawford has a mole, and Marilyn Monroe had one. In the Renaissance era, they were thought of as beauty enhancers, but if a mole is unsightly or bothersome, it is worth having it removed. Madonna had a mole and didn’t like the way it looked, so she had it removed. Benign moles can be removed easily with minimal risk of scarring thanks to modern techniques.
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.”
There are no currently medically approved creams for the removal of skin tags. Skin tags are typically removed by physical methods like cutting off or tying off with dental floss. It is not advisable to use unapproved products like Dermasil, wart removers, tea tree oil, nail polish, toothpaste, or hair-removal creams like Neet or Nair. Trial uses of unapproved creams may cause irritation and possible secondary complications.
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.
The causes of skin tags are not entirely clear but their presence in skin fold areas suggests that friction or frequent irritation is a potential cause. The condition appears to have a genetic component (there is a tendency for skin tags to occur in families) but other potential causes include hormonal imbalances. For example, skin tags are associated with agromegaly, the growth hormone disorder.
"When people come to me in situations like these, I will just numb the area up, snip it off and burn the base. It's a quick, easy way to just get them off so their skin can focus on healing. If the lesion is sort of half-dead and half-alive (after self-surgery gone awry), there's going to be a lot of pain and continued inflammation without the bump even going away."
Aside from genetic predisposition, UV exposure causes most moles to develop. This provides you with the opportunity to minimize your risk of new moles by practicing healthy sun habits. Moles result from all UV exposure, not just from a sunburn or excessive time in the sun. To minimize the chance that sun damage will cause new moles – or skin cancer – to develop on your body use broad-spectrum sunscreen on a daily basis, and avoid indoor tanning.
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."
Some common skin tag look-alikes include benign lesions such as seborrheic keratoses, common moles, warts, neurofibromas, and a fatty mole called nevus lipomatosus. While extremely rare, there are a few reports of skin cancers found in skin tags. Skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma may rarely mimic skin tags, as described above.
It is important to stress that any changes in your skin, including moles and skin tags, should be looked at by your physician or dermatologist to rule out skin cancer including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Routinely check your skin for any changes, and photograph areas of concern so you can keep track of any variations easily.
As mentioned above, skin tags have their own blood supply, and you should not attempt to cut, burn, tie, or freeze skin tags at home. And, please, do not apply duct tape to your skin. The risk of infection and scarring with these types of removal tactics is high. Take the time to learn how to remove skin tags safely with the natural treatments suggested below.
If you are wanting a mole removed for cosmetic reasons, it is important you first consult with a board certified dermatologist to ensure the mole is not concerning for melanoma. Once the mole has been assessed and deemed to appear benign on clinical inspection, a discussion should be had on whether a shave removal, punch biopsy or excision would have the best cosmetic outcome. With elevated moles a shave removal is usually performed which can leave a good cosmetic result in most cases. For flat moles, punch biopsy or excision is usually performed, but you should have a discussion with your dermatologist on whether the scar or mole will be more cosmetically appealing. At our office, shave removal of one mole is typically quoted at $138 to $200. Lastly, it is important the mole be sent for pathology to a board certified dermatopathologist. Pathology is charged separately by the dermaopathologist with prices ranging from $100 to $300.
If you’re experiencing pain after your mole removal or you notice that your mole is growing back, call your doctor so they can take another look. And if you got the mole removed in order for it to be biopsied, you should have your results within a week so that you can either put the entire thing behind you or move forward with a treatment plan if necessary.
Removing skin tags can be done easily in a dermatologist’s office. Most of the time, the appointment begins with the dermatologist inspecting the skin tag to be sure that it is only a benign skin tag. Likely, the dermatologist is also ruling out any signs of infection as well. After that the dermatologist will probably clean the area and use one of the following procedures to remove your skin tags:
Rub on aloe vera. You can either snip off a piece of an aloe vera plant or squeeze it to get the gel or you can purchase a bottle of aloe vera gel at a store. Get a cotton swab and dip it in the gel. Wipe it on your tag as often as you like. This method relies on the natural curative properties of aloe vera and its effectiveness is hit or miss.
Skin tags (acrochordons) are small, noncancerous (benign) growths that usually measure only a few millimeters in length, though they can grow up to half an inch.3 They typically appear on the neck, armpit, groin or inframammary areas.4 Almost half the population has been reported to have a skin tag, but the condition is more associated with obese people.5 Skin tags are also rare during childhood, but older people have an increased chance of developing them.6
Soak a clean cotton ball in water and then add three drops of tea tree oil or castor oil to it. Thoroughly clean the skin tag and the surrounding area with soap and water and then completely dry the area. Use the cotton swab that has water and tea tree oil on it and gently massages the skin tag and the surrounding area three times a day. It is important to use the water because tea tree oil should always be diluted or else you are at risk for skin irritation.
Acrochordons are harmless and do not require removal. Typical skin tags can be removed for comfort or cosmetic purposes either by scissor excision, electrocautery (burning), or cryosurgery (freezing). Skin tags with long, narrow stalks can become twisted, cutting off the blood supply and abruptly turning the tag dark brown or black. If a skin tag appears that it is changing or becomes painful, it should be examined by a dermatologist to exclude other, potentially harmful diagnoses.
I have them. You might have them, too. In fact, according to a study published in the journal Dermotologica — the only one that provides hard numbers on the subject — 46 percent of 750 randomly selected people studied had them. But I was in my early twenties, and I had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that over the course of several months, a few tiny bumps had appeared — on my genitals, mostly in the fold between my thigh and pubic area. From what I could tell, they were skin-colored. They were not moles. Clearly, I had a sexually transmitted disease (STD). I thought they were warts. I Googled, and then I dearly wished I hadn’t.