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5 reasons to see a dermatologist for mole, skin tag removal

A mole that grows, itches, or changes in any way could be skin cancer

If you remove this mole at home, the cancer can spread before it's found.

Dermatologist examines mole on patient's neck

If you have a mole or skin tag that you’d like to remove, the products available online may leave you thinking that this is a DIY project. It’s not.

These online products can cause “potentially harmful side effects and serious risks,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The list of harmful side effects and risks include:

  • Skin injuries

  • Infection that requires antibiotics to treat

  • Scarring

  • Delaying a skin cancer diagnosis and treatment

Because of the harm these products can cause, the FDA is telling people to avoid using them. None of the products sold for removing moles, skin tags, and other growths at home has received FDA approval.

Dermatologists agree. If you use one of these products, you’re essentially performing at-home surgery, which can go seriously wrong quickly and unexpectedly. Trying to remove a mole or skin tag at home could cause a serious infection. You could have uncontrolled bleeding that requires going to an emergency room (ER) for life-saving care.

If you want to remove a mole, skin tag, or other growth from your skin, here are five benefits of seeing a dermatologist for this treatment:

  1. Find and treat skin cancer. Skin cancer can appear on your skin in many ways. It can look like a changing mole, new growth, or scar. When you see a dermatologist, you receive the care you need to find out whether or not you have skin cancer. If you have skin cancer, you can receive expert medical care.

    If the spot you remove at home is a skin cancer, you can leave behind microscopic cancer cells. These cancer cells can multiply and spread deep into the tissue beneath your skin. If you have melanoma, the most serious skin cancer, these skin cancer cells can spread quickly throughout the body.

    Caught early and treated, skin cancer is highly treatable.

  2. Control infection risk. When doctors cut into skin, they follow guidelines that dramatically reduce the risk of infection. Without this knowledge, you risk developing a serious infection, which can require a trip to the ER.

  3. Minimize scarring. Any time you wound your skin, you risk developing a scar. Dermatologists have the expertise required to reduce scarring.

  4. Prevent loss of movement due to scarring. If you cause a scar on skin that covers a joint, such as a knuckle or elbow, the scar can limit how far you can move your finger or elbow. Dermatologists understand this risk and use their expertise to help avoid this.

  5. Avoid difficult-to-stop blood loss. Dermatologists have the in-depth medical expertise required to remove skin growths with the least amount of injury. Without this knowledge, it’s easy for you to nick a blood vessel or cut into a vein unexpectedly.

    Your dermatologist will also talk with you before treating you, asking you questions about your medical conditions and medications that you take. This information helps your dermatologist know what could cause difficult-to-stop bleeding and take necessary precautions.

When it comes to removing a mole, skin tag, or other growth from your skin, don’t be misled by claims like “safe,” scar free,” or “zero risk.” If you remove a growth or spot from your skin, there is some risk. Your dermatologists know the risks and how to minimize them to give you the best outcome.

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Products marketed for removing moles and other skin lesions can cause injuries, scarring.” Last updated 8/10/22. Last visited 10/10/22.

Last updated: 10/11/22