Skin tags do not pose a health risk, but they can be irritating or unwanted for cosmetic reasons. It can also be important to have a qualified dermatology provider examine the growth to ensure it is not a condition such as skin cancer, which may have a similar appearance. At Silver Falls Dermatology in Oregon and Washington, our providers can help.
Skin tags, or acrochordons, are noncancerous growths that are typically small. While similar to moles (nevi), skin tags are typically the same color as the surrounding skin and usually appear as a small lump or cluster of skin tissue that extends away from the surface from a very small stem. Skin tags are very common, with as many as half of all adults experiencing at least one skin tag throughout their lifetime. They do not pose a threat to your overall health but can be removed if unwanted.
Skin tags are the result of the development of excess skin cells within the top layers of the skin. They are most common in areas of high natural movement or friction. For example, skin tags are most likely found in the armpits, groin, thighs, neck, breast creases, eyelids or genitals. Skin tags are more common in those with a family history of the growths, conditions such as diabetes, obesity or other skin disorders and those experiencing high levels of growth factors, especially during pregnancy.
Skin tags do not typically require treatment, though it can be necessary to have them examined to confirm that they are a benign growth. Many patients prefer to have skin tags removed if they are unsightly or cause irritation. It is important to avoid attempting to remove a skin tag yourself, as this can lead to an infection, scarring or other complications.
Skin Tag Removal
If you choose to have a skin tag removed, your provider may suggest several options.
The most common way to remove a skin tag is to perform a simple surgery to shave or cut it away. This may involve the use of a scalpel, surgical scissors or other tools. Local numbing or anesthesia are not typically necessary but may be used for some patients.
Cryosurgery can also be used to remove skin tags. This involves using liquid nitrogen to freeze the skin tag, killing the excess skin cells and causing them to fall away from the surrounding area.
Finally, skin tags can be removed through cauterization. This involves using heat to burn the excess tissue off and prevent bleeding.
During your appointment, your provider will explain any aftercare instructions to follow as your skin heals after skin tag removal.