Skin tags are extremely common small tissue growths on the skin’s surface. Up to half of all people may get one at more at some point in their lifetime. Most often, skin tags are harmless, painless, and don’t grow or change. While you can find them all over your body, skin tags often form on areas of the body subject to rubbing. You are most likely to find them on the neck, armpits, trunk and in body folds. (1)
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.
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.
Skin tags, medically termed as acrochordons or fibroepithelial polyps (FEP), are just a tiny benign bit of flesh that is typically connected to the underlying skin by a thin stalk. Yeah, gross. On the exterior, they look like minuscule bits of “hanging” skin that are typically taller than wide. These growths are seen in approximately half of all people and can form for a variety of reasons. However, they turn up more often during pregnancy, in diabetics, obese individuals, and those that have a family history of skin tags. They are also more common as you age—and men and women suffer them at about the same rate.
Skin tags themselves have a core of fibers and ducts, nerve cells, fat cells and a layer of skin surrounding it. They may have a stalk and generally look like a small piece of hanging skin. Skin tags may have a smooth surface or an irregular surface. They are often raised and either slightly brown or flesh colored. They generally start quite small and flat, like the bump on a pinhead. Sizes vary, and they can grow up to 5 cm in size. (2)
Many people who develop skin tags simply choose to leave them alone. If, however, you find a skin tag unsightly or find that it’s becoming irritated by shaving or rubbing on clothing or jewelry, you can have it removed by a doctor. The two most common methods are cryotherapy, in which the tag is taken off using a freezing solution, or cauterization, in which the tag is burned off. There are also home kits available (similar to wart removal kits), but they may only be appropriate for certain small tags. Consult your healthcare provider for advice, especially if the tag is large (in which case a biopsy may be taken), or it is near your eye.
While it is true that skin tags often show up in the armpit or neck creases, the skin-on-skin friction is not what’s to blame. Rather, it’s the creases and skin folds that produce a friendly environment for a virus that may cause some skin tags. According to Ben Johnson, MD, founder of holistic beauty brand Osmosis Skincare, “Viruses are much more commonly spread through contact than people realize, but they don’t find the skin an easy place to survive. Creases improve their chances, and on rare occasions, one makes it into the follicle and infects local skin DNA to create skin tags.”
Hormone elevations, such as those seen during pregnancy, may cause an increase in the formation of skin tags, as skin tags are more frequent in pregnant women. Tags are essentially harmless and do not have to be treated unless they are bothersome. Skin tags that are bothersome may be easily removed during or after pregnancy, typically by a dermatologist.
Apple cider vinegar can destroy the skin tag tissue so that it goes away completely. Take two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and soak a cotton ball with this. Apply it to the skin tag after completely cleansing the skin and drying it. Make sure to squeeze the cotton ball while you massage the skin tag so that the skin tag is saturated with the vinegar.
Researchers have noticed that people with diabetes and insulin resistance are more likely to have multiple skin tags. Obesity seems to increase the risk, too. Studies have found that the heavier people are, the more skin tags they are likely to have. That may be because skin tags are more likely to pop up in folds of skin that rub against each other.
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.
If the procedure is for cosmetic purposes, then it is unlikely that insurance will pay for the costs. Most cosmetic procedures are not valid for insurance coverage. If the mole is diagnosed as cancerous, insurance will most likely cover the removal. As soon as the mole is evaluated by the doctor, we will verify insurance to make certain of any coverage that may exist.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which begins in skin cells called melanocytes and affects more than 53,600 people in the United States each year. These melanocytes can grow together to form benign moles which, after a change in size, shape, or color can be a sign of melanoma. Caused by sun exposure, early detection becomes extremely important to avoid a spread to other areas of the body. Diagnosis is confirmed through a biopsy of the abnormal skin and treatment depends on the extent and characteristics of the patient. Metastatic melanoma is melanoma that has spread to various organs.
" All of us have skin! Sadly, it is ignored too often until something goes wrong. I recommend GROSSMONT DERMATOLOGY MEDICAL CLINIC and SKIN CANCER TREATMENT CENTER. The entire staff works together to assure an efficient and professional experience. I have been a patient of Doctors Dean, Bushman and Li; and have friends who are patients of Dr. Goskowicz. (I feel sure Dr. Crosby is excellent, too.)
"Skin tags are these fleshy little bumps that are just annoying as can be. Skin tags can rub against clothing or get caught on jewelry and then they can get really irritated and inflamed. Some people’s skin tags even bleed. Skin tags often form in areas of friction. They'll appear around the neck, under the arms, on our thighs, even around the eyelids," says Geraghty. If you want to get rid of skin tags, read on for advice from Geraghty about how to remove skin tags at the dermatologist's office.