What Are Skin Tags?
Clinically called “acrochordons,” skin tags are common, benign skin-colored growths that resemble a small, soft balloon attached to the surface skin by a slender stalk. This stalk is called a peduncle. Skin tags are harmless growths, and people can develop anywhere from just one or two up to hundreds of them. They are equally common in both men and women, especially after the age of 50. Obese people tend to develop more skin tags. They can appear anywhere on your body, though these areas are most common:
- The area under the breasts
Early on, a skin tag may be as small as a flat pinhead-sized bump. Most skin tags are small, from 2-5 mm, or about a third or half the size of a pencil eraser. But they can become as large as a grape or fig.
What causes skin tags to form?
It’s somewhat of a mystery why we form skin tags. Because they typically occur in skin folds, there is a thought that friction could play a role. Skin tags are made up of blood vessels and collagen, surrounded by an outer layer of skin.
Some research points to a possible link to the human papillomavirus (HPV). Insulin resistance, as in type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, may also play a role in the development of skin tags. One study found the presence of multiple skin tags associated with insulin resistance, high body mass indexes, and high triglycerides.
Skin tags are also common during pregnancy. This is likely due to hormones and weight gain.
Can I prevent skin tags from forming?
Other than maintaining a healthy weight, there is no way to prevent skin tags from forming. They are probably the single most common bump on adult human skin.
Are Skin Tags Dangerous?
While skin tags are completely benign, they may catch on clothing, become irritated, or they may just be unsightly.
How Are Skin Tags Removed?
There are several methods of removing skin tags including freezing with liquid nitrogen, burning them with cautery, and removing them with scissors. These treatments are usually effective in removing the growth but may cause temporary skin discoloration or bleeding.
Skin tags are harmless, and they don’t require removal. They won’t turn into cancerous growths. But they can be unsightly and bothersome. If they occur in an area where you are constantly bumping or rubbing them, they can be painful.
There are numerous over-the-counter options for removing skin tags, along with a bunch of home remedies. You can use everything from a piece of a banana peel to apple cider vinegar to tea tree oil. For over-the-counter options, wart removers work, and there are also some skin tag removal kits. You can shave them off, but you may need a few minutes of applying pressure to get the spot to stop bleeding.
However, if you’re uncomfortable removing a skin tag yourself, or if it is in an area that is more sensitive, you should come to see the board-certified dermatologists at the Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery.
These are the methods we use to remove skin tags:
- Cauterization — We typically use low-level electrical current to heat and remove the skin tag.
- Cryosurgery — We spray the skin tag with liquid nitrogen, which freezes the skin cells and causes the tag to fall off.
- Surgery — This sounds more involved than it is. All we do is snip off the skin tag at its base with a pair of surgical scissors. Usually, only a bandage is needed to close the spot afterward.
Is Anesthesia Used for Skin Tag Removal?
Small tags may be removed without the use of anesthesia, while larger ones may require a local anesthetic.
Is skin tag removal painful?
In most cases, there is little if any pain involved with removing a skin tag. However, in more sensitive locations, or in the case of larger skin tags, we will opt to inject a small amount of local anesthetic into the area before we remove the growth.
How long will my skin tag removal appointment take?
These appointments only take a few minutes. They are simple and straightforward. There isn’t any recovery other than keeping the spot clean until it is healed.
For more information on skin tag removal or to schedule an appointment, give us a call today!