Skin tags have been linked to diabetes. "We know that diabetics are more prone to them. More research is needed to know exactly why that is scientifically, but there’s some correlation that we observed with diabetes," says Geraghty. Though doctors don't fully understand why, the body's resistance to insulin might have something to do with it. So, if you have diabetes, you may be at an increased risk of developing skin tags.
Avoid using mole removal creams. These creams are often sold online, marketed as a cheap, noninvasive alternative to surgical removal. In fact, mole removal creams can end up leaving deep pockets in your skin, since they go beyond the mole and dig into the skin underneath, causing irreparable damage. The small scar left behind by surgical removal is minimal in comparison.
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.”
Dermatologists say nay: The tags are almost never cancerous and don’t need to be removed; in fact, they’re (almost!) always benign. And while many people opt to remove them due to discomfort or for cosmetic reasons, there is no harm in leaving them be. There are extremely rare exceptions to this rule: In one study, two patients with known basal cell nevus syndrome (BCNS) were found to have multiple basal cell carcinomas that resembled ordinary skin tags. “There are rare cases where skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and even melanoma, can mimic a skin tag,” says dermatologist Avnee Shah, MD. “Going to a board-certified dermatologist assures a trained eye is examining the lesion and determining the risk of a more harmful condition masquerading as a skin tag.” To be safe, if any tag is growing, changing color, or bleeding and itching, it’s definitely time to see an expert. Find out 6 surprising signs of disease your skin can reveal.
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:
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Congenital nevi are moles that are present at birth. Congenital nevi occur in about one in 100 people. These moles are slightly more likely to develop into melanoma (cancer) than are moles that appear after birth. A mole or freckle should be checked if it has a diameter of more than a pencil eraser or any characteristics of the ABCDEs of melanoma (see below).
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.
What's to know about bumps on the skin? Bumps on the skin can be harmless. However, they can also point to more severe conditions, such as skin cancer. Learn all about common types of bumps found on the skin in this MNT Knowledge Center article, from skin tags to melanomas, including their causes, treatment options, and when to see a doctor. Read now