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What are Skin Tags
Skin tags are common, acquired benign skin growths that resemble a small, soft balloon suspended on a slender stalk. Skin tags are harmless growths that can vary in number from one to hundreds. Males and females are equally prone to developing skin tags. Obesity seems to be associated with skin tag development. Although some skin tags may fall off spontaneously, most persist once formed. The medical name for skin tag is acrochordon. Some people call them “skin tabs.”
Early on, skin tabs may be as small as a flattened pinhead-sized bump. While most tags typically are small (2 mm-5 mm in diameter) at approximately one-third to one-half the size of a pencil eraser, some skin tabs may become as large as a big grape (1 cm in diameter) or a fig (5 cm in diameter).
Medical Terms For Skin Tags
Medical terms your physician or dermatologist may use to describe a skin tag include fibroepithelial polyp, acrochordon, cutaneous papilloma, and soft fibroma. All of these terms describe skin tags and are benign (noncancerous), painless skin growths. Some people refer to these as “skin tabs” or warts. However, a skin tag is best known as a skin tag.
Where Can Skin Tags Appear
They can appear anywhere on your body, though they’re commonly found in places where your skin folds such as the:
- Area under your breasts
What Causes Skin Tags
It is not clear exactly what causes skin tags, but it may happen when clusters of collagen and blood vessels become trapped inside thicker pieces of skin. As they are more common in skin creases or folds, they may be mainly caused by skin rubbing against skin.
Some people appear to inherit an increased susceptibility to skin tabs.
Skin tabs affect people both males and females, but they happen more often during pregnancy, in people who are obese, and in people with diabetes.
They have been associated with hyperinsulinemia, when there is too much insulin circulating in the blood.
How to Get Rid of Skin Tags
Tiny skin tags may rub off on their own. Most skin tabs stay attached to your skin. In general, skin tabs don’t require treatment. If skin tags hurt or bother you, you may opt to have them removed.
Your doctor may remove your skin tags by:
- Cryotherapy: Freezing the skin tag with liquid nitrogen.
- Surgical removal: Removing the skin tag with scissors or a scalpel.
- Electrosurgery: Burning off the skin tag with high-frequency electrical energy.
- Ligation: Removing the skin tag by tying it off with surgical thread in order to cut off its blood flow.
Having small skin tags removed doesn’t usually require anesthesia. Your doctor may use local anesthesia when removing large or multiple skin tabs.
Natural Remedies at Home
You can also try natural remedies to remove skin tabs. These include tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice. Keep in mind that there’s no scientific evidence to support these remedies.
It’s not a good idea to try to remove tags on your own. Many websites offer DIY instructions for removing tags by tying them off with string or applying a chemical peel. Even in a sterile environment, removing skin tags may cause bleeding, burns, and infection. It’s best to let your doctor handle the job.
Skin tags appear to be more common in:
- People who are overweight and obese
- Those with diabetes
- Women during pregnancy, possibly due to hormonal changes and high levels of growth factors
- Those with some types of human papilloma virus (HPV)
- People with a sex-steroid imbalance, especially if there are changes in levels of estrogen and progesterone
Studies have found that skin tags are more likely to occur with:
- Dyslipidemia, for example, high cholesterol levels
- Hypertension, or high blood pressure
They have also been linked to insulin resistance and elevated high-sensitive C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.
This suggests that tags may offer an external sign of an increased risk of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
When to See a Doctor
Other skin conditions such as warts and moles can resemble skin tags. Since some moles may be cancerous, it’s best to have your tags examined by a doctor. Your dermatologist or family doctor will be able to diagnose skin tags. They’ll likely do this through a visual exam. If they have any doubt about the diagnosis, they may also perform a biopsy.
- If you develop a skin tag, it may not be cause for concern. For most people, tags are just a nuisance. If they don’t bother you, and you’re sure of the diagnosis, you can leave them alone. Keep in mind that where you have one skin tag, more may appear.
- Some skin tags are stubborn. You may need more than one treatment to get rid of them. If a tag is frozen or ligated, it can take a few weeks for it to fall off. In some cases, skin tabs will regrow and need to be removed again.
- If you’re overweight, losing weight won’t make your existing tags go away. It may help reduce your risk of developing more.
- If you have a skin growth that bleeds, itches, or changes color, contact your doctor immediately. They’ll need to rule out a serious condition such as skin cancer.
Have you had experience with skin tags? If yes, let us know down in the comments below!
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