Our skin is always changing, and you may notice new freckles, spots or growths. Most skin growths are benign, but it is important to have a dermatologist inspect them to be sure.
The most common type of skin growth is a skin tag, a small, flesh-colored piece of skin that frequently appears on the neck, underarm or groin. They often occur due to skin rubbing on skin. They are usually painless, but can be easily removed due to cosmetic reasons or if they become irritated. In majority of cases, once the skin tag is removed it will not reappear.
Moles are common. Almost every adult has a few moles. Adults who have light skin often have more moles. They may have 10 to 40 moles on their skin. This is normal.
You should not be overly worried about your moles. But you should know:
- A type of skin cancer, melanoma, can grow in or near a mole.
- Caught early and treated, melanoma can be cured.
- The first sign of melanoma is often a change to a mole — or a new mole on your skin.
- Checking your skin can help you find melanoma early. A dermatologist can show you how to examine your skin and tell you how often you should check your skin.
A dermatologist’s trained eye can often tell whether a spot is a mole. Most moles do not require treatment.
A dermatologist will remove a mole that:
- Bothers a patient (rubs against clothing, etc.).
- A patient finds unattractive.
- Could be skin cancer.
A dermatologist can remove a mole during an office visit. A few moles will require a second visit. Whether it's during 1 or 2 visits, a dermatologist can safely and easily remove a mole. A dermatologist will use 1 of these procedures:
- Surgical excision: The dermatologist cuts out the entire mole and stitches the skin closed. If the dermatologist suspects that the mole contains cancer, the dermatologist will send the mole to a lab. It will be examined under a microscope. This is called a biopsy.
- Surgical shave: The dermatologist uses a surgical blade to remove the mole.
After a mole is removed, the skin will heal. If the mole grows back, immediately make another appointment to see your dermatologist. This is a sign of melanoma, a type of skin cancer.