A frightening trend I've noticed is that people on TikTok are removing their own moles and skin tags at home. They're either using apple cider vinegar or an over-the-counter skin tag removal kit or just ripping them right off. One video I saw had nearly 10 million views on TikTok.
This whole trend seemed a bit dicey to me, but hey, I'm no doctor. So I decided to reach out to two dermatologists for some expert insight into at-home mole/skin tag removal.
Dr. Joyce Park and Dr. Brittany Craiglow are pretty active on TikTok. They were already familiar with this trend when I asked them about it, and to say they were concerned would be an understatement.
"Dermatologists NEVER recommend in-home removals of pigmented (tan or brown) lesions like moles or skin tags," Dr. Joyce Park, a board-certified dermatologist in California, told BuzzFeed.
"First of all, without a dermatologist seeing the lesion first, you just don’t know if these are potentially dangerous lesions such as dysplastic nevi (atypical moles that have a chance of turning into skin cancer) or even melanoma," Park said. "If you remove what’s visible on the surface of the skin, the lesion may still have remaining cells underneath the skin that continue to grow and possibly even spread."
Dr. Brittany Craiglow, a Connecticut-based dermatologist, shared the same concerns as Park. "Under no circumstance do doctors approve of this!" she told BuzzFeed. "It is frankly horrifying to me that this has become a popular topic on social media."
"Removing nevi (moles) in this fashion can cause unsightly scars, which in many cases may prove to be more cosmetically bothersome than the original lesion," Craiglow said. "The treated skin could also become infected, requiring antibiotics or, in severe cases, admission to the hospital."
Both Craiglow and Park stressed the importance of consulting a dermatologist if you have anything on your skin that bothers or concerns you.
So please, everyone, let's stop playing doctor while we're in the midst of a global pandemic, okay?