What are Skin Tags?
Skin tags are tiny, benign protrusions of skin that are typically connected by a thin stalk to the underlying skin. They look like bits of skin that are hanging on by a another thin piece of skin. Skin tags generally occur in sites where clothing rubs against the skin or places where skin rubs against skin, such as the underarms, neck, upper chest and groin.
At birth skin tags are not present, but their frequency increases with age. Approximately 25% of adults have skin tags. Also, there appears to be a genetic predisposition to the development of skin tags according to some studies.
Acrochordon is the medical term for skin tags. Some common terms include soft warts, soft fibromas, fibroma penulans, fibroepithelial polyps (FEP) and pedunculated firbroma.
What Causes Skin Tags?
In many instances, it is believed that skin tags develop due to friction between adjacent areas of skin or between clothing and skin. Common sites for skin tags include…
– The underarms
– Upper chest (particularly beneath the breasts in women)
– Groin folds
Skin tags are more common in overweight or obese people because of the increased skin-to-skin contact and friction. They intend to increase with age but skin tags can sometimes be seen in children. They are most common in middle-aged and older individuals.
Skin tags have also been linked to the following…
– Studies have suggested that the development of skin tags may be hereditary.
– People with Crohn’s disease are susceptible to having skin tags around the anal opening
(perianal skin tags).
– Hormonal changes due to pregnancy can stimulate the growth of skin tags, particularly
during the second trimester.
Skin tags are not cancers and reports of skin cancers arising in skin tags are extremely rare.
What Do Skin Tags Look Like?
Though skin tags are typically flesh-colored, in light-skinned individuals they may appear brown. They can be smoothed, wrinkled and may range in size from very tiny to the size of a grape. Most skin tags are recognized by their attachment to the skin by thin stalk looking structures. However, small skin tags can have no stalk and appear simply as raised bumps on the skin.
A red or black appearance usually means the skin tag is twisted on its blood supply. Skin tags my bleed if torn. Typically they are not painful and are not directly associated with specific skin conditions. However, individuals who are prone to diabetes and have a skin condition known as acanthosis nigricans often times have skin tags. This suggests that there may be a correlation between diabetes and the development of skin tags.
Should I See a Doctor about My Skin Tags?
Typically skin tags do not require medical treatment unless they are irritating you or you wish to have them removed for cosmetic reasons.
The diagnosis of skin tags is made by observation since they usually have a very characteristic appearance.
Usually laboratory tests or other diagnostic studies are not a requirement. However there may be times when your family physician may send a skin tag to a pathologist to rule out other skin conditions that have a similar appearance to skin tags. Certain types of moles, benign skin growths, and warts can sometimes resemble skin tags. It is very rare for a skin cancer to resemble a skin tag.
Can I Prevent Skin Tags?
It’s impossible to prevent skin tags though weight loss may be a deterrent.
How Do I Remove Skin Tags?
Skin tags may be removed by cutting with a blade or scissors, freezing with liquid nitrogen or using electrocautery (burning). This type of removal is done in the doctor’s office. For larger skin tags local anesthesia may be necessary before removal. Tiny skin tags can typically be removed without anesthesia.
Are There Home-Based Remedies to Remove Skin Tags?
Most of the time skin tags can be removed simply, painlessly and inexpensively at home. Here are reviews of 2 approaches and products that we feel will serve you the best. One product, Revitol Skin Tag Removal Cream, contains essential oils for removing skin tags and our other recommendation is the use of pure essential oils.