Skin tags are really cells that keep growing out from the surrounding skin. Frequently, they are attached to the skin by a slimmer neck-like structure. The color can vary from flesh colored to pink, brown, black or white depending on the condition of the tag. The most common locations for skin tags are the underarm or groin area, the neck or face.
Skin tags are not painful, as long as they are left alone. Skin tags in contact with clothing or jewelry may become painful by irritation of the area.
Skin tags have a few medical names. Among them are acrochordans and fibroepithelial polyps. Some non-medical people refer to them as barnacles or soft tumors, but skin tag is the most common name, more helpful hints.
Most experts agree that they are more likely to form in middle age or later. However, sometimes they occur in young children. They have been seen in areas where skin is irritated or moist, like in folds of skin or in the groin area. There appear to be links to some other conditions including obesity, hormonal or metabolic imbalances or genetic disposition. The hormonal link means that skin tags frequently arise during pregnancy.
Although skin tags are technically a form of tumor, they are benign, rarely showing any signs of cancer. Due to the fact that the occasional skin tag can become precancerous, having a physician check them periodically is a wise policy.
Removing Skin Tags
Physicians advise having a qualified professional remove the tags. This can be done in three different ways. The quickest, for small skin tags, is removal using surgical scissors. A small amount of topical anesthetic may be applied for pain. This method is very effective, but minor blood loss will occur. A second method for removing skin tags is freezing them off in the manner of wart removal. The third method is burning off by an electric device.
Larger skin tags may need to be removed by surgery. The larger the skin tag, the more painful the removal and the more blood loss. Skin tags on the inside of the eyelids should be removed by an opthamologist, so that no damage is done to the eye itself.
Removal at Home?
Home remedies for removal of skin tags abound, but they are not generally recommended due to the possibility that the object may not be a skin tag or that other disease may be present, such as acromegaly or polycystic ovary syndrome. Physicians, especially dermatologists, can usually tell by looking or by microscope whether an object is a skin tag or not.
Home remedies include tying a piece of thread or dental floss around the stem of the skin tag. This painful procedure is supposed to cut off the blood supply to the tag, causing it to die and fall off. Some people pull or cut off their own skin tags. There is some risk of infection if proper antiseptic conditions are not present.
Also, there are liquids on the market to apply to the skin tag. These are reported to be ineffective and to cause some damage to the surrounding skin. Any use of over the counter removal methods should be undertaken with extreme caution and a lot of research.
Properly removed skin tags do not return. Skin tags are not contagious and they do not spread when removed. Once gone, the skin tags should not return in the location from which they are removed. Most people who have skin tags have a genetic tendency or an underlying problem, so removal in one location does not mean that another skin tag will not occur elsewhere on the body.
Skin tags can be unsightly, especially if they are on the face and neck. Fortunately, removal is safe and permanent. Consult a physician for proper treatment and advice.