November 23, 2020

Have you spotted a mark or growth on your skin but unsure whether it is a mole or a skin tag? Both moles and skin tags are small growths that appear on the skin.

They differ in size, color, and sometimes even their removal methods (which depend on the size or shape of the growth). Most people don’t understand that the two are not the same. So, this piece will help you understand the key differences between the moles and skin tags:

Mole Vs. Skin Tags Definition & Characteristics

Skin Tag Definition Skin tags are small, benign, and balloon-shaped skin growth that hangs off the skin with a small stalk or thread-like grain of rice called Peduncle. 

Critical Characteristics of Skin Tags

Skin tags vary in appearance from irregular, smooth, colored, raised, flesh, or dark-pigmented. They are darker compared to the surrounding skin due to hyperpigmentation. When twisted, a skin tag can turn blacker due to a lack of blood flow.

Often, they resemble a “3D” skin growth, and they can range in color from flesh-toned to brown. Skin tags are tiny and are generally smaller than 2 millimeters.

Skin tag medical term is acrochordon. Some of the synonyms used to refer to skin tags include soft fibromas, soft warts, fibroepithelial polyps (FEP), pedunculated fibroma, and fibroma pendulans.

Anyone can develop skin tags, but they tend to increase in frequency as you age and are more predominant, especially after age 50.

There is no exact cause of skin tags. But, since they tend to appear in skin folds, it’s believed that friction plays a considerable role. So, it’s believed that skin tags form due to the friction that occurs when the skin continually rubs against itself. And that’s why they mostly occur around the armpits, groin, eyelids, neck, under the breasts, and in buttock folds.

Obese middle-aged adults get skin tags more than other people, possibly due to friction or increased irritation and skin rubbing. Aging and hormonal factors also play a role in skin tags development. Unless repeatedly irritated, skin tags don’t have any symptoms.


What is a mole on Skin?

Key Characteristics of Moles

Moles have smooth surfaces, can either be oval or round and have a distinct edge that is often dome-shaped. They are generally the size of a pencil eraser, about ½ inch. Moles appear mostly in areas that are more exposed to the sun. They tend to become more prevalent during pregnancy and adolescence.

There are three different types of moles, including regular, irregular, and cancerous. The typical moles are harmless, and they rarely turn into melanoma. They are symmetrical and have smooth, even borders.

Atypical moles, on the other hand, are asymmetrical and have jagged borders. This type tends to become a melanoma, and thus, a regular examination is vital for early detection of abnormal moles and melanomas.

If you realize your mole changes in size, texture, color, or height, becomes scaly and dry, feels lumpy, bleeds, itches, and oozes, it’s crucial to quickly and immediately seek medical attention. That could a sign of cancer.

Some moles are hereditary, and they become more prevalent with sun exposure, especially during the early years of a child. People in regions with more sun exposure get more moles than those with less sun exposure. Sun avoidance and protection with sunscreen items, brimmed hats, and creams can help suppress some types of moles’ appearance.

Moles don’t spare anyone no matter the race or color, and they even affect animals like dogs and cats.

They can be present at birth (congenital), but many appear due to environmental factors like sun exposure later in teenagehood and into adulthood (up to age 35). Adults beyond 35 years develop non-moles skin growths such as seborrheic keratoses and lentigines liver spots. A new mole that appears beyond 35 years require closer examination and possibly a biopsy to determine if it’s a melanoma.

Moles grow slightly and in proportion to the average body growth. They occur in all races (Caucasian, Asian, African, and Indian) and skin colors. Even animals have moles.


Risk factors to consider Mole Vs. Skin Tags

Certain factors increase the likelihood of getting moles and skin tags. They include:  

Skin Tags Risk Factors

These factors make you be at a greater risk of developing skin tags:

  • Pregnancy
  • Being Overweight
  • Having a family history
  • Have HPV
  • Have insulin resistance or type II diabetes

Moles Risk Factors

  • Having a family history
  • Intense exposure to sunlight
  •  Pregnancy

Moles Vs. Skin Tags Removal

Moles and Skin tags can become a source of aesthetic issues for some people, especially if they form in a very exposed area. Others pose a health issue when they turn cancerous. So the patient needs to get them removed.  

Some of the removal methods can work for both the moles and the skin tags, but some differ primarily because of the size and extent the skin growth has spread to the surroundings. 

Here are the best removal methods for moles and skin tags:

Skin Tags Removal Methods

Most dermatologists recommend removing skin tags only if they are irritated and have become a source of discomfort or cosmetic problem. Some skin tag removal methods include snipping, freezing, burning, and strangulation by tying them off. These methods vary with the location of the skin tag on the body.

Here are the main methods used to remove skin tags:

  • Ligation- Skin tags are tied and cut with a surgical thread to cut off blood flow. The doctor may numb the area with local anesthesia.
  • Cryotherapy – The doctor freezes the skin tags using a using the liquid nitrogen until it drops off. This cold therapy, also called ice therapy, involves applying ice packs or immersing in ice baths.
  • Surgical removal: Skin tags are also removed surgically with a scalpel or scissors.
  • Electrosurgery: The doctor uses high-frequency electrical energy to burn off the skin tag.

DIY Skin Tags Removal Tactics

You can try to get rid of the skin tags using home remedies. Some of the most used natural remedies include applying apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, and lemon juice.

Some people use strings to cut off the skin tag, and others apply chemical peels.

Doctors, however, do not recommend removing skin tags on your own. Removing skin tags can cause excessive bleeding, getting burnt by chemical peels, or getting an infection. Thus, it’s best to go to a specialist and let them handle it.

If you notice any suspicious skin growth changes, see a doctor immediately. The physician will identify the skin growth and other conditions that will necessitate the removal of the growth.  

Mole Removal Methods

How to Remove Moles Naturally

Some of the home remedies that are used to treat moles include:

  • Use apple cider vinegar to burn the moles. 
  • Iodine to destroy the cells that are inside.
  • Garlic to break down the mole from the inside 
  • Cut the mole off with a razor blade or scissors.

These mole home remedies are dangerous, and doctors advise patients to visit the hospital to better treat and test the mole for abnormalities.

Professional Mole Treatment Methods

Regular moles can remain and don’t have to be eliminated. However, a doctor recommends removing suspicious moles in their entirety and performing a biopsy of the skin tissue.

Here are the main methods used to remove moles:

  • Cryotherapy: It involves freezing the moles using the liquid nitrogen until it drops off.
  • Lasers: This involves burning away the mole and sealing the blood vessels, and the surrounding skin remains intact. This method is, however, not recommended in some.
  • Minor Surgery: A minor surgical procedure is done to remove the mole. The process does not require numbing with anesthesia and happens in the daytime, and the patient can leave after it’s done.

The plastic surgeons that perform the surgery should have acquired specialized training in cosmic skin-growth removal.

Most mole removal methods leave a scar.

How to remove mole scars

To remove the scars, specialists recommend using silicone gel and silicone sheet. Silicone products help improve the scars’ appearance by regenerating new cells, reducing the wound’s spot. The skin absorbs the silicone gel, which helps hydrates the skin’s upper layer and prevents dry skin.

Silicone strips make the scar flatter and less noticeable. These adhesive sheets are used to soften and make the scars fade. They improve the color, size, texture, and overall appearance of scars that occur from the surgical procedure, laser, or chemical burns.

Key Takeaway

Moles and skin tags are different in size and shape. Some of the methods used to remove moles, like cryosurgery, can also treat skin tags. Always see a dermatologist if you want to have any of them removed. They will guide on the safest methods for each skin growth. If the growth has any irregularities and keeps changing in color, shape, size, and texture, let the doctor do a further examination. Some can be signs of another issue like melanoma.

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