Mole And Skin Tag Removal
Nobody likes skin tags and unsightly moles. Most of us are not Marilyn Monroe or Cindy Crawford and cannot make our moles sexy. Patients often seek out a dermatologist to have these growths removed.
Skin tags are those little pesky things that crop up around the neck, arm pits and groin areas. Patients call them tags, tabs, doodads, warts, thingies and barnacles. And moles come in all shapes and sizes, from hairy, black and red to just ugly. People sometimes affectionately give their moles pet names. Some mention that “Auntie Nell had a mole exactly in the same place” before adding, “I didn’t like Auntie Nell.”
But while mole and skin tag removal is quite a commonly requested service, third-party payers see it differently. Unless it’s at risk for cancer or meets other strict criteria, such as bleeding or rubbing on bra straps for instance, it’s considered cosmetic in their eyes. Insurances don’t care if your child is being mocked at school for his forehead mole, or that you have had a complex about that thing on your chin since childhood. It’s cosmetic in their eyes. Interestingly, you seldom will see an insurance executive with unsightly moles on their face. My guess is that the service is covered for them.
My father used to douse his skin tags with Jack Daniels and then snip them off with my mother’s cuticle scissors. Years later, I better understand the Jack Daniels part of that process.
Do Mole And Skin Tag Removers Work?
When people see products called TagAway or Dermatend that are “formulated with natural ingredients to safely remove moles and skin tags,” many are quite receptive to this marketing. The fact that these products are carried in trusted stores like CVS and RiteAid add to their credibility. After all, these pharmacies would never carry anything like hard liquor or cigarettes that could harm you right?
I’ve been baffled watching these types of products proliferate over the last few years. The medico legal ballyhoo around removing a patient’s mole in the office is vast. There are many dermatologists who will not incur the legal risk of removing a mole or skin tag without sending it for a biopsy to cover them in the event of a lawsuit. Sometimes skin cancer masquerades as a common mole. We have all been surprised a time or two. So when I see products that can just be indiscriminately applied to whatever growth one deems unsightly, I worry.
So last month, I was pleased to see that Dermatend was removed from the market. Evidently it was “voluntarily” removed, which probably means it was facing fines from the FDA if it became “involuntary.” Directly from the FDA’s website: “Solace International Inc. is voluntarily recalling all lots of Dermatend Original and Dermatend Ultra, in all sizes and dosage form, to the distributor/wholesaler level. A mole should be removed under the supervision of a dermatologist. Dermatend is not FDA approved, thus has not been shown to be safe and effective for the uses suggested in the labeling. Using these Dermatend products instead of seeking medical attention could result in delayed diagnosis of conditions such as cancer.”
Another product that continues to baffle me is the so-called Tagaway. Chances are you’ve seen it on TV or in the store already. Does it work? I don’t know. Neither does the FDA. It defies commonsense and there are no published credible data on this product. But putting my own personal biases aside, I checked customer reviews on amazon.com. Out of possible five stars, Tagaway has received 1.8. There are 217 one-star ratings and the overwhelming majority of comments are quite negative. There is also a 30-day money-back guarantee offered by the company. Conveniently, they recommend you use the product for eight weeks to be effective. Doing the math, it’s easy to guess that most people don’t get their money back.
So how can this product escape the FDA’s scrutiny and Dermatend cannot? My guess it is because it is a labeled as a homeopathic product and, for some strange reason, all consumer protection regulations don’t seem to apply to anything labeled as “homeopathic.”
Are there conventional therapies that mainstream doctors use that lack evidence? Absolutely, there are. We aren’t perfect and often we formulate treatments based upon what we were taught as young doctors from older doctors, who, in turn, learned from their mentors. Much like village witchdoctors, sometimes tradition occupies that grey area where the light of evidence-based treatments has not illuminated.
Will these products remove your moles and skin tags? Maybe. But at a minimum they are guaranteed to remove money from your wallet.