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.
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.
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There are two types of cauterization that can be applied, which are electrocautery and chemical cautery. You can guess from the names of them. Electrocautery is burning off skin tissue with a thin metal bar from the heat of electric current; whereas chemical cautery is the use of chemical reactions on the skin so that you can get rid of small lesions. However, due to its ability to affect surrounding areas of the wounds, chemical cauterization is not always recommended for removing skin tags.
A mole is a skin abnormality that develops when skin grows in a cluster instead of spreading out. These are usually dark, small patches of skin no larger than the size of an eraser head. Although they are most often harmless, some moles can develop into melanoma skin cancer. If you are concerned about a mole that may be cancerous, please refer to our skin cancer treatment page.
Don't ignore a mole that's changing. If you don't like the prospect of having surgery, you might be tempted to let your mole be and forget about it. That's usually fine, unless you notice that the mole has changed over time. A changing mole can be a sign of the presence of cancer cells, so you should have any mole checked out by your doctor. Use the ABCDE guide to examine your mole. If you notice the following, be sure to make an appointment with a doctor:
Been getting rid of overgrown, strange and poorly positioned moles one by one. Works! On my neck, where there’s multiple, small moles I have used this as an all-over treatment with success, too. Still working on it, but great reductions already. Would probably be quicker if I were more consistent, but still working, just slow. (Dark moles generally turn light after a few applications). * - Theresa
While they can turn up anywhere, skin tags tend to appear where there is frequent friction, such as the neck, breasts, groin, and underarms. Ultimately, there is no evidence that skin tags will lead to any serious skin condition: They’re mostly an aesthetic annoyance. Regardless, most dermatologists encourage you to have them checked out—and removed, if you want. The only link to danger is from one study from the Indian Journal of Dermatology, which suggested that skin tags may be a sign of underlying heart issues. You could get your heart checked out, but the one research connection shouldn’t concern anyone too much.