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.
How long do skin tags last?
Skin tags generally do not go away without treatment. Once they are removed by a board certified dermatologist, however, they do not grow back.
How long until skin tags fall off after freezing?
It can take 1-2 weeks for skin tags to fall off after cryotherapy treatments.
What are skin tags caused by?
Skin tags are simply clusters of extra collagen that grow on the skin. They and are harmless and tend to develop in areas where the skin rubs against itself – however, many people opt to have them removed when they begin to become irritating or disruptive.
What causes skin tags around eyes?
Skin tags grow in areas where the skin folds, as is common around the eyes. What exactly causes skin tags to grow is still unknown.
What does a skin tag look like?
Skin tags are tiny bumps or clusters on the skin that may be attached by a stalk or stem. They are most often skin-colored but can sometimes be colored similarly to a mole.
Should I be worried about skin tags?
Skin tags are generally harmless but may cause irritation or discomfort if clothing or jewelry rubs against them. If it begins to look or behave unusually, however, make sure to schedule an appointment with your dermatologist.
What does it mean when a skin tag hurts?
Skin tags do not typically cause pain on their own. If a skin tag hurts, it’s possible it has become irritated or sore from contact with clothing or jewelry. Skin tags can be mistaken for skin cancer, however, and it’s always best to consult your dermatologist with any concerns.
What is the difference between a mole and a skin tag?
Skin tags tend to be smaller than moles and grow on the surface of the skin while moles can be larger and deeper rooted. Additionally, moles may be darker in appearance.
When should I worry about a skin tag?
You should see your dermatologist if a skin tag begins to change, bleed significantly, or cause pain. These symptoms can be cause for concern.
Is there any way to prevent skin tags from appearing?
There are no reliable ways to prevent skin tags from developing, especially since some people are simply predisposed to getting them. However, you may be able to reduce your risk by keeping the skin moisturized and avoiding friction.