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.
Don’t impulsively deem any protruding bump as a skin tag; after all, there is an overwhelming number of things it could be—moles and seborrheic keratoses can closely resemble skin tags. Even worse, it could be something that requires medical treatment such as genital warts (possible indication of a sexually transmitted disease). Some growths could also be an extension of glands on the skin, and they can get infected if you’re poking at them at home. As a rule of thumb, if the tag is pigmented, see a dermatologist to get it evaluated. And here are 11 other skin mysteries you should know about.
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.
Recognize the benefits of professional medical care. It is very tempting to treat skin tags at home, but your doctor’s care offers some unique benefits. They will use sterile instruments to prevent infection. They will also rub on numbing cream to reduce your pain during and after the procedure. In addition, some of the methods, such as cauterization, are so advanced that they rarely leave a noticeable scar.
This method may be the most effective method to remove skin tags, but you should not do this method at home. Cutting or scratching the skin tag off yourself is dangerous. It leaves you susceptible to infections and if done incorrectly can cause excessive bleeding. If you are interested in having a skin tag cut off, see a doctor to do the procedure safely.
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.
Simply thinking about having a mole removed might send a few shivers down your spine, but sometimes it’s just necessary for your health, Gary Goldenberg, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, tells SELF. If, for example, you have a mole that your doctor suspects or has confirmed through a biopsy is cancerous, excising the mole can help to stop any cancer from potentially growing more. But people also have moles removed for cosmetic reasons or because they’re simply annoying, like if one falls just under your bra strap and always gets irritated, Dr. Goldenberg says.
Those who are concerned about scarring should consider seeking out a plastic surgeon as they understand the cosmetic approach to take. This is recommended especially to those who have larger moles. A plastic surgeon will focus on minimizing scarring as much as possible. Post-surgery care is especially important to create a natural, attractive outcome.
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).
Tying a String. For an elongated skin tag, your physician may tie a sterile string around the base to cut off the blood supply, causing the skin tag to die. As skin tags do have a blood supply of their own and doing this technique improperly can cause excessive bleeding, it is not recommended to do this yourself. When deciding how to remove skin tags, there are other safe and effective at-home treatments you can try.
Every dermatologist has a slightly different charge for mole removal. The price is based upon the size, shape, location and complexity of the removal. For instance, a very small mole in an area that is not cosmetically sensitive can be removed simply and without sutures whereas a mole that is larger and deeper will require more work such as layered closure with sutures.
Be aware that home remedies are not supported by medical evidence. Most home remedies are based on anecdotal evidence, meaning that some people have tried these remedies and reported that they had success. However, treating a mole at home can be unsafe and high risk. The mole may be cancerous and this requires medical treatment. Make sure to talk with your doctor about your moles before trying any home remedies.
If you have an unsightly mole, one of our dermatologists can remove it during an office visit. Some moles require two visits. Never try to remove a mole at home; it should be done by a dermatologist. If it contains cancer cells, they could spread, and even if it is benign, you could cause an infection, scar, or disfigurement. There are even creams that claim to remove moles, sometimes they work, but they can remove more than the mole because they essentially burn a hole in your skin. In addition, you might miss the early warning signs of cancer. No matter what your skin concerns may be, our dermatologists have a safe, effective solution. Don’t take chances with your skin; turn to the medical professionals at Skin Wellness Center of Alabama.
"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."
Insulin resistance, which may lead to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, may also play a role in the development of skin tags. People with insulin resistance don’t absorb glucose effectively from the bloodstream. According to a 2010 study, the presence of multiple skin tags was associated with insulin resistance, a high body mass index, and high triglycerides.