Moles are pigmented skin growths, also called nevi, that can appear anywhere on the body singly or in groups. Almost all adults have at least a few and some may have up to 40. Normally appearing as a dark brown spot, a mole may also be blue, black, pink or flesh-colored or may be raised and highly visible. Some may change over time or even gradually disappear. Whatever their color or shape, most moles are harmless and cause no symptoms other than discomfort when they rub against something.
These benign growths often appear on the folds of the skin where moisture and friction are common. This includes under arms and in the armpit region, on the neck, under the breast, near the genitals, on eyelids, or on the torso. While they can be irritated by clothing or jewelry, they typically are painless. Rarely, if a skin tag is twisted, a small blood clot can develop, which may make it tender or painful.
While the presence of skin tags can be unsightly and annoying there really aren’t that many reasons to remove them. If they are in locations where they get stuck in clothing or zippers you may want to have them taken off to avoid pain and bleeding. You may also want to have skin tags near the eyes removed. “Some skin tags can become very large and cause problems with vision,” said Sorensen.
Moles are brown or black growths, usually round or oval, that can appear anywhere on the skin. They can be rough or smooth, flat or raised, single or in multiples. They occur when cells that are responsible for skin pigmentation, known as melanocytes, grow in clusters instead of being spread out across the skin. Generally, moles are less than one-quarter inch in size. Most moles appear by the age of 20, although some moles may appear later in life. Most adults have between 10 and 40 moles. Because they last about 50 years, moles may disappear by themselves over time.
A skin tag, or acrochordon (pl. acrochorda), is a small benign tumor that forms primarily in areas where the skin forms creases (or rubs together), such as the neck, armpit and groin. They may also occur on the face, usually on the eyelids. Perianal skin tags can be associated with Crohn's disease. Acrochorda are generally harmless and painless and usually do not grow or change over time. Though tags up to a half-inch long have been seen, they are typically the size of a grain of rice. The surface of an acrochordon may be smooth or irregular in appearance and is often raised from the surface of the skin on a fleshy stalk called a peduncle. Microscopically, an acrochordon consists of a fibrovascular core, sometimes also with fat cells, covered by an unremarkable epidermis. However, tags may become irritated by shaving, clothing, jewellery or eczema.
Dysplastic nevi are moles that are generally larger than average (larger than a pencil eraser) and irregular in shape. They tend to have uneven color with dark brown centers and lighter, uneven edges. These nevi are somewhat more likely to become melanoma. In fact, people who have 10 or more dysplastic nevi have a 12 times higher chance of developing melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer. Any changes in a mole should be checked by a dermatologist to evaluate for skin cancer.
Tie it off. You can use fishing line, dental floss, or a thin cotton string in this method. Tie the string around the base of your skin tag. Tighten the tie until it is firm, but not painful. Snip off the excess and leave the string in place. Your skin tag should fall off due to lack of circulation. This is a version of what doctors can perform in their office using sterile tools.
However, some people also want moles removed for cosmetic reasons. Moles can be disfiguring — especially on the face. If they’re on your cheek, they distort your profile. Plus, they’re distracting (to you and others). Sometimes others stare at your mole instead of looking in your eyes during a conversation. Or maybe you see it out of the corner of your eye. If it starts to block your vision, it becomes a medical concern.
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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.