Skin Tags vs. Moles

Skin tags and moles are different types of skin growth. Skin Tag is a usually small, soft, and balloon-shaped growth of skin in particular that is connected to the skin by a thin stalk. However, skin tags are common and harmless. It occurs in particular areas where skin folds. People usually get skin tags at armpits, neck, buttock folds, groin, eyelids, and under the breasts.

The cause of skin tags is not proved in research but according to observation obese or middle-aged adults more often develop skin tags than other people. However, skin tags and moles removal does not involve freezing, strangulation by tying them off, burning, and snipping.

On the other hand, a mole is a skin growth that develops on our body from clusters of pigment cells known as melanocytes. Moles typically occur in areas where the skin is exposed to the sun.

Commonly mole size is generally smaller than 1/4-inch-wide. Moles have a smooth surface having a round or oval shape with a distinct edge. It is often dome-shaped with the even color of pink, tan, or brown. In rare cases mole turns into melanoma, the most serious type of skin tag cancer. Through this article, you will be able to understand all about skin tags vs. moles and their treatment in detail.  Let’s get started about Skin Tags vs. Moles…

What are Skin Tags?

Skin tags are a growth of skin that in flesh- color can be thin and stalk me.  It can be developed in many areas of our body. Especially those points where friction is created from skin rubbing. As skin tags age, they may become red or brown in color.

You can found skin tags in the following areas of the body:

  • Eyelid
  • Neck
  • Armpits
  • Breast area

What do Skin Tags Look Like?

The skin tag looks like a small flap of tissue that hangs off the skin by a connecting stalk. It looks like flesh color having red or brown in color.

Should You Have Removed a Skin Tag?

Skin tags have no concern with health but you can remove them for some cosmetic reasons. However, discomfort and irritation is the most common reason why people choose to remove it. Skin tags are usually not painful unless you constantly rub them against the folds of your skin. Your doctor can also remove it easily if they suspect that it’s not skin cancer.

What are Moles?

Moles are skin growth that is usually brown or black in color. It can appear anywhere on the skin ie. alone and in groups. Moles usually appear in childhood or during the first 25 years of a person’s life. Normally we all have approx 10- 40 moles by adulthood.

As time passes, moles usually rise or change their color. Sometimes, the hair also develops in that mole, and some of them do not change at all while others disappear over time.

What do Moles Look Like?

If we consider the visual look for pigment and hair then moles have both.  Because of pigmentation, there is rare potential to change from a regular mole into skin cancer.

Various people influence the development of moles and sun exposure stimulates them. Take extra precautions, if you notice these small benign growths pop up easily on your skin especially in the sun to prevent more from forming.

Types of Moles

Moles are of two types ie. congenital nevi and dysplastic nevi. In congenital nevi, moles that are present from birth are included. These types of moles occur in about one in 100 people. There are slight chances of developing it into melanoma. A mole should be checked if its diameter is more than a pencil eraser or having any symptoms of melanoma.

On the other hand, Dysplastic nevi are moles whose size is generally larger than average (pencil eraser) and irregular in shape. These moles have uneven colors such as dark brown centers with lighter and uneven edges. There is a chance that these types of moles can become melanoma (serious skin cancer).

Most importantly, people having 10 or more dysplastic nevi have 12 times higher chances of developing melanoma.  If you observe any type of changes in the size and color of your mole then you should consult a dermatologist to evaluate for skin cancer.

How Do I Know If a Mole Is Cancer?

Moles are not dangerous but some exceptions are always there. Moles that have chances to be cancer are that look different from other existing moles or those which appear after the age of 25. Evaluate your mole’s color, height, size, or shape, if you find any change in it then immediately consult a dermatologist (skin doctor) to evaluate it.

Below mentioned are important points you should consider while examining moles. If a mole displays any of the signs listed below,  consult a dermatologist immediately because it could be skin cancer.

  • Asymmetry- When one half of the mole does not look like the other half.
  • Diameter- When your mole diameter is larger than the size of the eraser of a pencil.
  • Evolution- When you find a change in size, shape, or color of your mole.
  • Border- When the border or edges of your mole are blurred, irregular, and ragged.
  • Color- When the color of the mole does not match throughout or has shades of tan such as brown, black, red, white, or blue.

Skin Tags vs. Moles

As we discussed above, moles have harmless growth that can occur anywhere on your body. It is usually black or brown in color. Moreover, you can have clusters of moles,  and they may change shape, color, and grow hair. You should consult your dermatologist if you have noticed that your mole is growing larger or changing color. If it seems dangerous, your doctor can safely remove it.

On the other hand, Skin tags are entirely benign and usually occur after age 50. They commonly grow in the skin-folds area of our body, such as at the crease of our groin or armpit. They are generally having the same color as your skin, but there are chances that they can become hyperpigmented over time.  Due to hormonal changes with pregnancy, your skin may form skiing tags.  These skin tags occur at a place by a thin stalk called a peduncle.

Both moles and skin tags are considered cosmetic flaws. But they may irritate you as they rub on clothing. Most people remove it to prevent themselves from trouble and to improve their appearance.

What Causes Skin Tags and Moles?

Skin Tags

Acrochordon is the medical term for skin tags. Synonyms that are sometimes used to refer to skin tags are fibroepithelial polyps (FEP), soft warts, soft fibromas, fibroma pendulums, and pedunculated fibroma.

It can occur to anyone and tend to increase in frequency as you age. However, there are common in obese, and people due to increase irritation and rubbing of the skin fold. In addition, aging processes and hormonal factors play a role in the development of skin tags.


Moles may cause due to the following reason:-

  • Genes we inherit from our parents,
  • Amount of sun exposure ( during childhood)

These factors determine mole numbers. More sun exposure leads to more mole numbers. On the other hand, moles can also occur in sun-protected areas.

In terms of medical moles and freckles, they are considered ephelides. Moles can be raised but freckles are always flat. However, moles are common in people heaving freckles. People with light complexions tend to get freckles and moles.

For precautions, regular use of sunscreen, sun avoidance, and sun protection help to suppress the appearance of both of these.

Moles occur in all races whether you are Caucasian, Asian, African, and Indian. Even animals have moles.  As discussed above mostly moles appear at birth till the age of 25 and it is considered normal. But sometimes, a new mole appears after the age of 35 which requires extra observation and evaluation. It is essential to notice changes and also evaluate your moles by a dermatologist.

What is the Treatment for Skin Tags and Moles?

Treatment for Skin Tags and Moles

For skin Tags:-  There are various ways to treat or remove your skin tag. Your dermatologist can remove it by cutting it off with scissors or scalpel,  electrosurgery (burning it off with an electric current), or cryosurgery (freezing it off).

If a dermatologist wants to evaluate it further, he/she can do a biopsy by shaving or cutting out the entire spot to evaluate it under the microscope.

But if the mole is found to be cancerous, the dermatologist needs to cut out the entire mole or scar by cutting out that entire area from the biopsy site and then stitch the wound to close.

Are There Any Risks Associated with Skin Tags and Moles?

Skin tags are totally harmless and small in size that does not cause any pain, but sometimes it can irritate by clothing said Debra Jaliman, M.D.- board-certified dermatologist.

In most cases, skin tags are associated with larger bodies. Also, many skin tags on one person could be a sign of diabetes or of any other medical condition associated with obesity, said Dr. Zeichner. In such cases, you should concern yourself with your doctor.

Moles, too, are harmless but new or changing moles may be a concern.  A good rule of thumb for evaluating a mole is to follow the “ABCDE method”. It means you need to check for asymmetry, evolutions, color, diameter, border, and changes in the mole, according to the CDCP (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ). Any of those changes in a mole could be serious skin cancer.

Will Moles, Warts, and Skin Tags Go Away on Their Own?

No, skin tags, moles, and warts do not go away on their own. So, whatever you have out of these, a board-certified dermatologist can give you the most accurate identification and guidance to help you decide if the growth should be removed or not.

Can You Remove Moles and Skin Tags at Home

Use of home remedies such as nail clippers to cut off skin tags or lotion and pastes to remove moles and skin tags cause scarring, infection and bleeding. Therefore it’s important that your doctor check moles and skin tags to remove.

How to Remove Skin Tags and Moles?

Skin tag or mole removal can be done by a dermatologist in any of these ways:

  • Cutting it off

Skin tags may be cut or snipped off with surgical scissors or a scalpel. However, it can be shaved off with the skin. And other moles have cells that go underneath the skin. In such cases, your dermatologist might make a deeper cut to remove the entire mole and prevent your mole or skin tag from growing back. This process may require stitches.

  • Freezing it with liquid nitrogen

Your dermatologist will spray a small amount of nitrogen liquid on the mole or skin tag. It may create a small blister on that area but don’t worry it will heal automatically.

  • Burning it off

In this method, an electric current passes through hotwire which will burn the upper layer of the skin. Remember, you may need more than one treatment for skin tags and moles removal. Removing skin tags through this process helps prevent bleeding.

The burning procedure can hurt you little but your doctor will numb that particular area with an anesthetic before beginning the process. In case bleeding occurs, the doctor can apply medicine to stop bleeding. At last, doctors will apply bandages on it to heal it soon. All this process doesn’t give any scars and marks on the body.

Bottom Line

Skin tags and moles are not harmful to our health. However, it may look bad. Moles that appear after the age of 35 require extra observation to look out for changes. Because in some cases changes in mole’s shape, size and color may be a sign of an evolving early melanoma (skin cancer).  Therefore, it’s important to notice any new or changing mole and consult your dermatologist for its evaluation.

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