Mole Vs. Skin Tags

Many people experience skin tags and moles during their lifetime. Skin tags and moles are usually harmless. Your dermatologist or general health care provider can remove skin tags and moles. If you develop concern regarding a skin tag or mole, see your health care provider. The information contained in this article is not a substitute for medical care and does not replace the advice of your doctor.

See your doctor if you have concerns regarding a skin lesion. (Image: RusN/iStock/Getty Images)

Skin Tag Characteristics

Skin tags consist of soft, movable flesh. They often extend outward from the body by a stalk-like stem of flesh. Skin tags range in color from flesh toned to brown. Skin tags commonly grow in the underarm, neck and groin areas. Areas of the body that receive a lot of friction are common sites of skin tag growth. Skin tags rarely pose a health risk but sometimes cause problems of snagging or irritation, due to their location.

Mole Characteristics

Moles are growths on the skin that have a brown, black or flesh tone. Moles can grow in a raised fashion or level with the skin's surface, and they can appear anywhere on the skin. Most people have between 10 and 40 moles by adulthood. Moles may grow alone or in clusters. They commonly disappear or slowly change over time. Moles exposed to sunlight may darken in color.

Causes

Moles grow when skin cells, called melanocytes, grow in a cluster instead of spreading out over the surface of the skin. The increased pigment of the cluster area gives the mole its color. Skin tags can result from friction in a concentrated area of the body. Skin tags also occur during or after pregnancy and after a large weight gain.

Removal

If a skin tag interferes with daily life or causes embarrassment, you may opt to have it removed. Your doctor may remove a mole for cosmetic reasons or because of concern regarding an atypical mole. Doctors remove skin tags by snipping the tag from the surface of the skin, by using a small electrical instrument to burn the lesion, or by freezing it--also known as cryotherapy. Doctors may also use cryotherapy to remove moles. If the mole warrants biopsy, your doctor will use a scalpel to remove it.

Cause for Concern

Skin tags generally pose no concern. Skin tags may become twisted, causing red discoloration and irritation. See your health care provider if your skin tag exhibits such symptoms. Moles generally do not pose concern but do possess the potential for malignancy. Check your moles regularly for any sudden changes. Use the A,B,C,D,E guidelines when checking your moles. Asymmetry, uneven border, multiple shades of color, large diameter and elevation or evolution represent suspicious changes. See your health care provider if you notice any of these conditions.

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