Occasionally, you may come across a skin growth you’re unsure about. Here’s how to tell the difference between two common ones and when you may want to schedule an appointment at Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center.

A mole, also known as a nevus, is an abnormal growth on the skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, this condition is extremely common, estimating an average of 10 to 40 moles in most people with light skin. Various factors lead to the appearance of moles on the skin. Sometimes, they’re genetic, meaning you can be born with a mole. This type of mole is called congenital nevi. Other factors that may cause moles include sun exposure, age, and drug responses.

Moles are often mistaken for skin tags. Even though similar, skin tags have their unique structure, causes, and treatment options. Skin tags or acrochordons are non-cancerous, painless, and harmless growths that are usually the exact color of your skin. There’s no single or specific cause of skin tags. Risk factors can include obesity, pregnancy, diabetes, human papilloma virus, illegally use steroids, and a history of family members getting skin tags.

Mole characteristics and treatment

A mole is usually found above the waist area. They’re usually smaller than 5 millimeters or about one-fourth the width of a pencil eraser. They’re also round, with a smooth surface, and are often dome-shaped. They usually can appear in pink, tan, or brown colors. Moles are usually nothing to worry about but they may become cancerous. It’s important to see a dermatologist should your mole change color or shape or if it starts getting itchy.

Dr. Monique S. Cohn, DO FAOCD often prescribes one of two treatment options for mole removal: shave excision and excisional surgery. Shave excision is a technique used for smaller moles. It involves using a small blade to cut around and under the mole. This technique usually doesn’t require sutures. Excisional surgery or excision biopsy involves sutures after cutting the affected skin with a punch device or scalpel.

Skin tag characteristics and treatment

Skin tags are usually found on the neck, chest, back, under the breasts, or in the groin area. They’re common in older adults and women who have gained weight. Most skin tags aren’t painful or dangerous but are benign, and can be uncomfortable if clothes or jewelry rubs against them. You may not need medical attention if you aren’t bothered about how your skin tags look or itch. If any skin tags itch, bleed, or swell up, there are several remedies. Schedule a visit with Dr. Cohn for a proper diagnosis and recommended treatment options.

Over-the-counter and home remedies include: removal creams, freezing kits, tea tree oil, and even apple cider vinegar. But research to back these treatments are limited, and using these home remedies without a doctor’s prescription might lead to scars, infections, and excessive bleeding.

Medical, in office, procedures for skin tags include cauterization, cryosurgery, and ligation. Cauterization involves using an electric current to remove the skin tag. Cryosurgery starts by spraying a small amount of liquid nitrogen over the skin tags freezing off the growth. Ligation involves using a surgical thread to cut off the blood flow to areas affected by skin tags.

If you have a mole or skin tag that causes you concern, schedule an appointment on-line or call 330-425-7600 at our Twinsburg office for a consultation with Dr. Monique S. Cohn to discuss your mole or skin tag removal options.

Many different types of normal moles or nevi are not skin cancers.

Many different types of normal moles or nevi are not skin cancers. And, they can vary in appearance and feel. But if any mole appears quickly, changes color or causes painful itching, it’s best to make a dermatologist appointment to rule out skin cancer.