A skin tag is a tiny, benign, outpouching of skin that is typically connected to the underlying skin by a thin stalk. Skin tags look like tiny bits of “hanging” skin and typically occur in sites where clothing rubs against the skin or where there is skin-to-skin friction, such as the underarms, neck, upper chest, and groin.
Skin tags are not present at birth and their frequency increases with age. Skin tags can be observed in about 25% of adults. Studies have shown a genetic predisposition to the development of skin tags. Therefore, skin tags can run in families.
A skin tag is medically termed an acrochordon. Sometimes, other terms have been used to refer to skin tags. These include soft warts (although they do not represent true warts), soft fibromas, fibroepithelial polyps (FEP), fibroma pendulans, and pedunculated fibroma.
What Causes Skin Tags?
Skin tags are a common complaint.
In many cases, skin tags are believed to develop due to friction between adjacent areas of skin or between clothing and skin. Common sites for skin tags include the following:
- The underarms
- Upper chest (particularly beneath the breasts in women)
- Groin folds
Because of the increased skin-to-skin contact and friction, skin tags are more common in overweight obese people. Although skin tags can sometimes be seen in children, they tend to increase with age and are most common in middle-aged and older individuals.
Studies have suggested an inherited susceptibility to the development of skin tags. In people with Crohn’s disease, skin tags around the anal opening (perianal skin tags) are common. The hormonal changes of pregnancy can also stimulate the growth of skin tags, particularly during the second trimester of pregnancy.
Skin tags are not cancers. Reports of skin cancers arising in skin tags are extremely rare.
Who tends to get skin tags?
More than half if not all of the general population has been reported to have skin tags at some time in their lives. Although tags are generally acquired (not present at birth) and may occur in anyone, more often they arise in adulthood. They are much more common in middle age, and they tend to increase in prevalence up to age 60. Children and toddlers may also develop skin tags, particularly in the underarm and neck areas. Skin tags are more common in overweight people.
Hormone elevations, such as those seen during pregnancy, may cause an increase in the formation of skin tags, as skin tags are more frequent in pregnant women. Tags are essentially harmless and do not have to be treated unless they are bothersome. Skin tags that are bothersome may be easily removed during or after pregnancy, typically by a dermatologist.
Although skin tags are generally not associated with any other diseases, there seems to be a group of obese individuals who, along with many skin tags, develop a condition called acanthosis nigricans on the skin of their neck and armpits and are predisposed to have high blood fats and sugar.
What Is the Recommended Treatment for Skin Tags?
Because there is no danger associated with skin tags, they are solely a cosmetic concern. Despite uncertainty about what causes them in the first place, getting rid of skin tags is typically a fast and easy treatment.
Skin Tag Removal
Skin tags can be especially bothersome when they emerge in a prominent place that’s visible and distracting; somewhere like an eyelid. Skin tags that occur where they are subject to a lot of friction from clothing can cause them to bleed and cause discomfort as well.
Skin tags removal options include freezing it via treatment that does not affect the surrounding skin, or burning off and destroying the tissue with heat is also an option. If a skin tags has a root that separates it from the skin surface, it can also be simply removed with sterile surgical scissors.
Read More: Best Natural Way To Remove Skin Tag At Home
Recovery or Downtime Following Skin Tags Removal
There is typically no recovery or downtime. Patients can typically return to their daily routine without hesitation following treatment.
It is worth noting that a full dermatology skin screening is always advisable. Ensuring a proper diagnosis is key. While skin tags are completely benign and pose no threat, other skin abnormalities, irregularities, and tumors may appear similar. Let one of the Westover Hills Dermatology doctors give you the peace of mind that comes from a thorough diagnostic skin screening.