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Difference Between Moles Freckles Skin Tags

Moles, freckles, and skin tags are cellular growths that erupt on the surface of the skin anywhere on the entire body. They can either be symptomatic or asymptomatic depending on several factors. Here, we will discuss each in detail.

Moles: (difference between Moles Freckles Skin Tags)

Moles are benign cellular growths (non-cancerous) that can erupt anywhere on the body. Moles can grow on the skin of the entire body, being more common in some parts of the body. They are mostly brown or black but they can be of other colors as well.

Generally, moles are present on the body at birth, but can also develop over time due to sunlight exposure.

The production of moles in adulthood is related to increased melanin production. Some moles may have hair growth. Normally moles do not harm your body.

But it is better to keep an eye on moles if you notice any change in moles or other pigmented patches, change in size or color of your mole then it is better to consult your doctor for treatment or surgical removal.

It may indicate skin cancer or malignant melanoma (a type of skin cancer) that should be treated on time. Moles, Freckles, Skin tags are situations that should be monitored regularly.

Moles, Freckles, Skin Tags,

How many moles can a person have?

A survey conducted on 872 people reveals that on average both males and females have a similar number of moles.15 moles of diameter 2mm or greater and 39 moles of all sizes are found on average.

Features of a Mole

The natural mole has the following features

Color:  The color of the mole can be

  • Brown
  • Red
  • Pink
  • Blue
  • Tan

Texture: The texture of the natural harmless mole is

  • Smooth
  • Wrinkled
  • Flat
  • Raised

Shape: The shape of a mole can vary. The two common shapes are 

  • Oval
  • Round

Size: The size of the mole is usually ¼ inch or 6 millimeters in diameter.

These are the normal features of a mole. And you should not worry about it.

On Which Parts of the Body Moles Can Develop?

Moles can develop on any part of the body. Especially at

  • Scalp
  • Between your fingers
  • Under the nails
  • Armpits
  • Legs
  • Abdomen

Causes of Moles on skin:

Moles appear when a cluster of cells grows in the skin instead of spreading in the whole skin. These cells are named melanocytes.

Melanocytes secrete the pigment melanin that gives the skin its color.

Moles may darken with time especially in females during pregnancy or due to permanent and long-term exposure to sunlight.

Medical Terminology for Moles:

The medical terminology for moles is nevi.

Types of moles:

Different types of moles are congenital, acquired, and dysplastic moles.

Congenital Moles

As the name indicates these moles are present at birth. Almost every individual has moles or skin tags on different body parts.

These are natural and do not harm the body. They are sleek and may be brown or black. Congenital moles are usually non-cancerous.

Acquired Moles

These moles develop after birth at any time of your life. The acquired moles are due to exposure to sunlight.

These moles are usually brown due to melanin pigment. These are non-cancerous and do not turn into melanoma (a type of skin cancer).

Dysplastic Moles

Dysplastic moles are different from acquired and congenital moles.  They are usually larger like the size of the pencil eraser.

They are uneven in shape. Their colors are even different. The moles have a dark brown center with uneven edges.

There are chances that these moles become melanoma (skin cancer).

How to Differentiate Between Mole and Melanoma?

Melanoma is skin cancer and is differentiated from mole by an ABCDE guide

  • Asymmetrical: The shape of the mole is uneven or odd
  • Border:  The borders of the mole are a good differentiation sign between melanoma and mole. If your mole is arbitrary, the notched border you should take notice of it.
  • Color: If the color of your mole has changed or you notice any pigmented patch on your body
  • Diameter: If your mole is growing large or you notice any change in growth or size.
  • Evolving: Evolving moles, especially black, may indicate a sign of itching or bleeding indicates melanoma.

When to see a doctor?

It is better to visit your dermatologist annually if you have moles or freckles.

The following signs reflect that yóu should consult a doctor:

  • New rapidly growing moles
  • Scratchy moles
  • Moles that change the shape or size
  • Infected moles
  • Bleeding moles

Investigations:

The doctor may advise a biopsy to evaluate your mole that either it is cancerous or benign. A cancerous mole can be removed by cutting or small surgery

Treatment for Excessive Moles:

You can remove your moles if you feel the following problems such as

  • The mole disturbs you because of its location such as on the eyes or lips.
  • Melanoma suspicion

Shaving and Surgical Cutting

The doctor may remove your mole by shaving or surgical cutting. Usually, smaller moles are removed by shaving. The doctor may recommend surgical removal for large moles. The doctor will numb the area where the mole is present and peel it out.

Please consult your doctor if you notice any ABCDE symptoms in your mole. Please do not cut your mole at home on your own.

Freckles: (difference between Moles Freckles Skin Tags)

Freckles are skin pigmentation. They are small. Freckles are usually brown. They can occur anywhere in the body but are most common on the arms and face.

They can occur both in males and females. They are seen mostly in the summer. They are more common among lighter-skinned people. Usually, Freckles are nothing to worry about.

Moles, Freckles, Skin Tags,

Causes of Freckles:

Freckles are caused by

  • Genetics
  • Exposure to sunlight
  • Xeroderma Pigmentosum

This is an uncommon disease, It increases the sensitivity to ultraviolet light (UV) emitted by the Sun.

Symptoms of Freckles

Freckles are usually harmless and can stay on your skin for a long time causing no damage. There are no associated symptoms.

Treatment of Freckles

Freckles cause no pain, no harm so basically there is no need for treatment. But if you do not like your freckles, you have the following choices:

  • Cover them with makeup or concealer
  • Laser Treatment (In this treatment, the moles are destroyed by electrical rays) This is one of the common methods to remove moles from the skin.
  • Liquid Nitrogen Treatment (Cryotherapy: In this procedure extremely cold liquid nitrogen is used to destroy tissues or excessive growths on the skin)
  • Chemical peels

(As the name indicates chemical and peel so a chemical such as an acid is applied on the skin in a single layer. The older layer of the skin (epidermis) peels and a new skin layer appears.)

You can use natural remedies and skin protective measurements to avoid freckles.

Skin Tag: (difference between Moles Freckles Skin Tags)

Moles, Freckles, Skin Tags,

A skin tag is not harmful yet irritating. They are more common in females than in males. A skin tag is a group of small tissues stacked together. It hangs off the skin by a connecting stalk.

They are most commonly present at:

  • Back
  • Armpits
  • Chest
  • Breast
  • Groin
  • Neck
  • Eyelids

Occurrence Rate:

Skin tags are more common in females. More importantly in elder and obese females.They can actually cause a disturbance if they get rubbed against anything such as jewelry or clothes.

Causes of Skin Tags

Causes of skin tags are unknown but certain factors can increase your risk of getting skin tags

  • Overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Human Papillomavirus
  • Diabetes type II
  • Family History of skin tags

Treatment for Skin Tags

Skin tags are usually not treated neither removed until and unless they are causing irritation or problem for the patient. The skin tag can be removed by following procedures:

Cryotherapy: Freezing the skin tag with liquid nitrogen and then cutting it off from the skin.

Surgical procedure: Eliminating the skin tag with scissors or scalpel after numbing the area under surgery.

Ligation: In this method, the blood supply of the skin tag is cut off by tying the skin tag with surgical threads. The skin tag becomes nutrient-deficient and sheds off ultimately.

Electrosurgery: In this method, the skin tag is destroyed or burned with high-frequency electrical energy.

When to See a Doctor for moles, freckles, or skin tags?

It is advised to visit your doctor annually in case you have moles on your skin because the dermatologist can see any changes in moles or any cancerous growth.

Tips for Good Skin: Moles Freckles Skin Tags

Skin is an important body organ and it is mandatory to take care of it. To have good skin, take the following steps into consideration

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid long exposures to the sun especially between 10 am-4 pm
  • Use sunscreen
  • Use moisturizers
  • Cover your skin properly while going out to avoid freckles and moles
  • Checkup monthly or annually to get updates by a dermatologist about your skin
  • Avoid strong soaps.

The Bottom Line: (Moles Freckles Skin Tags)

Moles are not harmful and are a natural part of our skin. But it is important to keep an eye on them. Because if any malignancy develops in them it can be life-threatening if not detected early.

Understand your skin and know where you have moles. Keep a regular check on them. Please visit your doctor if you notice any change in the growth, color, size, or shape of the mole. If you feel any itching or infection in the mole or if it bleeds. Please seek medical assistance.

Abdur Rashid
Medically Reviewed By Abdur Rashid
MSC Public Health, MCSP, MHCPC
BSC (Hon) Physiotherapy
Consultant Neuro-spinal & Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist

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