Skin Tag and Mole Removers: Are They Safe?
As we move closer to summer, every year, we see our dermatologists being asked similar questions and dealing with similar cases. Skin Cancer Awareness month is now upon us and it is great to see that more of us now have an understanding of the impact the sun has on our skin. With clear connections between sun exposure and skin cancer it is important to have all moles, freckles and skin tags checked. With this, we have seen a rise in queries about home skin tag and mole removers. So, are they safe, or best to avoid?
What Are Skin Tag and Mole Removers?
Let’s start with what a skin tag remover is anyway. The name pretty much explains this one. These removers are marketed as a solution to any moles and skin tags that you’re concerned about. Many of these skin tag removers use a small band to tighten around the tag and cut off the blood supply. It may or may not work, naturally we’re unwilling to try them and you may have guessed it: we’re advising you to avoid them too!
Further to these suspect looking plastic devices, there are also many ‘natural’ ways to remove a mole or skin tag. Most of which are unproven and unlikely to work but its good to understand them. For these unproven methods, we’ve separated them for you, although all of them are unproven, some of them you should definitely avoid. Others you are free to try without risking your health:
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Applying iodine to the mole to kill the cells inside
- Cutting off the mole with scissors or a razor blade
Unproven but unlikely to harm you:
- Applying apple cider vinegar to the mole
- Taping garlic to the mole
- A mixture of baking soda and castor oil
- Banana peel
- Frankincense oil
- Tea tree oil
- Aloe vera
- Flaxseed oil
Why Would You Need To Remove a Mole Or Skin Tag?
There are many reasons to remove a mole or skin tag. For many attempting home methods we can assume it is for aesthetic reasons. However, there are also many valid medical reasons for removing a mole. It is often that moles and skin tags are where skin cancer forms. A new mole or tag or even an old one can develop into skin cancer if it goes unchecked. Especially with high exposure to the sun. We’ve created a helpful quiz to aid you in spotting the signs of skin cancer – give it a try and learn more about the risks and how to prevent them.
What Are The Risks In Using A Home Skin Tag and Mole Remover?
Although we mention some unproven methods above that are unlikely to harm you. We ask you to be careful. We advise that any mole or skin tag you are planning to remove is checked by your local dermatologist or an online dermatologist such as ours. A dermatologist would never remove a mole and simply put it in the bin without sending off for analysis – this is what you’re doing when you opt for a home method. The reason a dermatologist does not do this is because the mole could be some form of cancer such as melanoma or an atypical mole. These atypical moles are more at risk of developing into cancer. If you remove this yourself at home, this could go unchecked. It is also unlikely that it will have been removed correctly and this increases the likelihood that the cancer remains in the body or returns without warning.
How To Get Rid Of A Mole or Skin Tag Safely
Firstly, get the mole checked. We cannot emphasise this enough. You can use our AI to check the mole instantly, we would then recommend consulting a dermatologist. If the mole is confirmed to be benign, you can try some of the ‘safe’ methods above but we would seriously recommend speaking to a medical professional. They can remove your mole or skin tag quickly and safely.
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The Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, alumnus UC Berkeley. My doctoral dissertation is about Digital Health and I have published 5 scientific articles in teledermatology and artificial intelligence and others.