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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

While sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic, people are tackling all sorts of DIY projects from baking bread to sewing COVID-19 masks. Some people are even trying DIY surgeries, such as removing a mole or skin tag.

Dermatologists caution that at-home surgery can go seriously wrong quickly and unexpectedly. Trying to remove a mole or skin tag at home could cause a deep-seated infection. You could cause unstoppable blood loss. To get life-saving care, you’d have to go to the emergency room (ER).

If you have a mole or skin tag that you want to remove, you can still contact a dermatologist.

During the coronavirus pandemic, some dermatologists offer telemedicine appointments. This allows you to consult with a dermatologist while sheltering in place. If the spot on your skin needs immediate care, you can schedule an in-person visit.

Whether the spot on your skin requires immediate medical care or can be removed later, you want to see a dermatologist. Here are five reasons why:

  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 you remove a mole at home that’s actually 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, these skin cancer cells can spread quickly throughout the body. This is why melanoma is called the deadliest skin cancer.

    Caught early and treated, melanoma 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. Before treating you, your dermatologist will ask 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.

    Dermatologists also 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.

It’s understandable that you may want to do everything you can to treat yourself at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Dermatologists are helping people do this when possible. They’re also providing information to help you avoid unnecessary risks, such as DIY mole removal.

Skin cancer apps can be misleading

Another risk that can harm your health is to rely on an app to find skin cancer. Studies show that these apps tend to give misleading advice.

Here’s what you should know about these apps: Can an app diagnose skin cancer?

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