The skin is the largest organ in the human body, and it is not uncommon for it to be affected by various conditions. In fact, more than 3,000 skin diseases have been identified, ranging from minor irritations to severe and life-threatening conditions. With so many skin conditions, distinguishing between them can be challenging.
Two skin growths often confused with each other are skin tags and moles. Understanding the differences between these two growths is essential to receive appropriate treatment and care. So, how do skin tags vs. moles distinguish themselves from one another?
- What are Skin Tags?
- What are Moles?
- Skin Tags vs Moles: Differences
- When to See a Doctor?
- Treatment Options for Skin Tags and Moles
- Are There Risks Associated with Removing Skin Tags and Moles?
- Can You Prevent Skin Tags or Moles?
What are Skin Tags?
Skin tags, or acrochordons, are small growths that typically appear on the neck, eyelids, or underarms. Generally, skin tags are flesh-toned and protrude from the skin’s surface. Thankfully, these benign growths pose no medical risks and do not necessitate any treatment.
However, they can be a nuisance due to their appearance. If the skin tags are bothersome or cause discomfort, they can be removed through various treatments.
What are Moles?
Moles, or melanocytic nevi, are typically benign growths on the skin that can range in size and color. They are caused by an excess of melanin, a pigment produced in the body. In some cases, moles can become cancerous.
Therefore, it is important to monitor the appearance of moles and seek medical attention if they change in size, shape, or color. Moles can be removed through various treatments, such as laser surgery and cryotherapy.
Skin Tags vs Moles: Differences
Distinguishing between skin tags and moles is essential to receive effective treatment. Some key differences include several factors:
Skin tags and moles differ in their appearance. Skin tags are typically small, soft and can vary from a few millimeters to several centimeters in size, connected to the skin with a thin stalk or peduncle.
Moles, on the other hand, are usually pigmented spots that can be flat or raised. They may have a smooth or rough texture and range in color from tan to dark brown or black. While some moles may be small, others can be quite large and may even have hair growing out of them. Unlike skin tags, moles are typically round or oval and firmly attached to the skin.
Skin tags and moles differ in texture as well. Skin tags are typically soft and flexible and may even feel like a small flap of skin. They can be moved around easily and are not usually painful. At the same time, moles can vary in texture depending on the type.
Common or acquired moles are usually smooth and have a consistent texture. Dysplastic nevi, atypical moles that can be a risk factor for skin cancer, may have an uneven surface and may be raised or bumpy. Moles tend to be firmer and less flexible than skin tags and are often more firmly attached to the skin.
Skin tags are commonly seen in areas on the body where skin contact with itself or clothing is more frequent, such as around the neck, underarms, and groin. Conversely, moles can appear anywhere on the body and may be present at birth or develop later in life.
Skin tags are usually small, ranging in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters. Moles can also vary in size but tend to be larger than skin tags.
Skin tags are usually irregular or asymmetrical in shape and may be elongated or flat. Moles are typically round or oval in shape, with a clearly defined border.
Skin tags tend to be the same color as or slightly darker than the skin around them. Moles, on the other hand, can range in color from tan to dark brown or black and may even have different shades within the same mole.
When to See a Doctor?
Suppose you have a skin growth that you are unsure of. In that case, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor, particularly a dermatologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating skin conditions. While skin tags are generally harmless and can be left untreated, moles may require medical attention, significantly if they change in size, shape, or color.
Treatment Options for Skin Tags and Moles
Treatment options for skin tags and moles depend on the type and location of the growth and individual preference.
A dermatologist can easily remove skin tags through various methods, including freezing with liquid nitrogen, cutting with scissors, or burning with an electric current. In some cases, over-the-counter creams or ointments may effectively remove skin tags.
Do I have to remove my moles?
Moles may not always require removal, but if a mole changes in size, shape, or color or if it becomes itchy or painful, it should be evaluated by a dermatologist. Depending on the type of mole and the extent of change, the dermatologist may recommend removal. It can be done through surgical excision, where the mole is cut out of the skin, and the area is stitched closed, or through shaving, where the mole is shaved down to skin level.
As for using apple cider vinegar for mole removal, there is limited scientific evidence to support its effectiveness, and it may even cause skin irritation or damage. It is essential to consult with a dermatologist before attempting any home remedies for skin growth.
Are There Risks Associated with Removing Skin Tags and Moles?
While removing skin tags and moles is generally safe and straightforward, there are some risks associated with the procedure. These may include bleeding, infection, scarring, or incomplete removal of the growth. However, these risks can be minimized by having the procedure performed by a qualified dermatologist.
Do moles grow back?
In the case of moles, there is also the risk of the mole growing back after it has been removed. This can happen if the mole is not completely removed or if residual cells grow after the procedure. In some cases, the mole may regrow in a slightly different location or with a somewhat different appearance.
Can You Prevent Skin Tags or Moles?
There is no surefire way to prevent the development of skin tags or moles, as they can be influenced by factors such as genetics and age. However, avoiding excessive sun exposure and maintaining a healthy weight may reduce the risk of developing skin tags. To reduce the risk of moles developing into skin cancer, it is important to practice sun safety and monitor your skin for changes regularly.
By understanding the differences between skin tags and moles, you can ensure that you get the right treatment for each condition and reduce your risk of developing potentially serious complications. If you have skin growth, it is always best to consult a dermatologist to ensure you receive the correct diagnosis and treatment plan.