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Learn About Lesions, Moles, and Skin Tags

Learn About Lesions, Moles, and Skin Tags Nov 10, 2023 / by Complete Family Dermatology Team

Lesions are areas on our body different from the rest of the skin. Two of the most common lesions are moles and skin tags, which are usually non-cancerous. But even if they're harmless, it might still alarm you to see them appear out of nowhere. Learning about moles and skin tags can help you understand your skin and body more. To help you, here are the differences between the two in terms of appearance, risks, and removal. 
What Are Moles?
 Moles are spots or bumps on the body, and everyone has them. The average person has anywhere between 10 to 40 moles. Common moles are small, dark, and flat. Meanwhile, atypical moles are larger with irregular borders and various colors. Moles are either already there when you're born or appear on your body as you age. People usually start getting moles at three or four years old and keep having new ones until they're 30. Genetics can also play a role in the number of moles you have, as some families develop more than others. Moles are skin cell overgrowths and are typically harmless. However, some can become cancerous because of excessive UV exposure. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of cancerous mole because it can attack tissue inside the body, including the lungs, brain, and liver. While there are no guaranteed ways to prevent moles, UV protection is essential to countering skin cancer. Always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen and avoid using tanning beds if possible. 
What Are Skin Tags?
 As the name implies, skin tags are small, fleshy overgrowths that hang from the skin like tags. They usually appear on the neck, armpits, groin, and under the breasts because those areas tend to rub the most against clothing. They start as small bumps but can grow with time. The stems vary in length, while the lesion can range from 2 mm to 1 cm. About 50% of adults get at least one skin tag. Overweight or obese individuals and those who have diabetes are more prone to these lesions. But like moles, skin tags can be genetic, so even slender people can get them. In most cases, skin tags aren’t a cause for worry because these are benign and typically aren’t painful. The most they can do is irritate the skin when they rub against jewelry or clothing. While there are no ways to prevent skin tags, your health provider might suggest ways to lower your risk of getting them. That can include eating a nutritious diet or following an exercise regimen. 
Mole and Skin Tag Removal
 You don't need to do anything about your skin tags unless they're causing you discomfort. Your dermatologist can remove them by cutting them off using surgical scissors. Other options are to freeze or burn them. Never attempt to snip them off yourself at home because they can bleed significantly and develop an infection. You don't have to remove moles, either. But if your doctor thinks there's a cause for concern, they might require a biopsy. They'll scrape the surface of it or cut off a tiny portion and send the specimen to the lab. If results show atypical cells, they might surgically remove part of the mole or remove it entirely. If the sample shows cancer cells, they'll eliminate the mole and some of the skin around it to be extra safe. 
Consult a Professional for Your Skin Worries
 Moles and skin tags usually aren't worrisome. But if you're experiencing discomfort or you feel like there's something unusual going on with your skin, consult a dermatologist. They'll assess your lesion and recommend the best way to move forward. For more information, contact Complete Family Dermatology at (402) 423-1111.

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