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Moles are skin growths made up of cells that produce color (pigment). A mole can appear anywhere on the skin, alone or in groups. Most people get a few moles during their first 20 years of life. They are usually brown in color but can be blue, black, or flesh-colored. Most moles are harmless and don't cause pain or other symptoms unless you rub them or they bump against something.
Skin tags are small, soft pieces of skin that stick out on a thin stem. They most often appear on the neck, armpits, upper trunk, and body folds. The cause of skin tags is not known. They are harmless.
Most moles and skin tags don't require treatment. But sometimes people want to remove them for cosmetic reasons or because they cause discomfort when they rub against clothing or get caught in jewelry.
Check with your doctor if you have a mole that looks different from your other moles. He or she may need to do a biopsy of the mole, which means removing the mole and sending it to a lab to check it for cancer.
Your doctor may remove a mole or skin tag in any of these ways:
The procedure may hurt a little, but your doctor will numb the area with an anesthetic before he or she begins. If the procedure causes any bleeding, your doctor may apply a medicine that helps stop the bleeding. Then he or she will put a bandage on it. These procedures usually leave no scars or marks.
Home remedies, such as using nail clippers to cut off skin tags or lotions and pastes to remove moles, may cause bleeding, infection, and scarring. And it's important that your doctor check moles before they are removed. It's much safer to have your doctor remove your moles and skin tags for you.
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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