Doctors call them acrochordons, but you likely know them as skin tags. Their appearance is odd, a flap of skin, often connected to the rest of the skin by a thin stalk called a peduncle. They serve no purpose — researchers aren’t even certain why they appear, or why they favor some people over others.
What skin tags are not is cancerous, nor will they become cancerous over time. Large tags may be irritated by friction against skin or clothing and could cause some discomfort, but the biggest risk associated with skin tags is often self-consciousness about their appearance.
While there are over-the-counter kits for self-removal of skin tags, removing tags is best left to medical specialists, like the team at Wandisan-Rosete Medical Group. Skin tag removal isn’t difficult or painful, but as with any medical procedure, there are risks of complications for which trained personnel are ready.
Skin tag formation
You can see skin tags appear as early as your 20s, but usually they appear later in life. It’s normal for tags to appear during and after pregnancy or after weight gain, and since they’re common in places where skin rubs against itself, it’s thought that this sort of friction may be a contributing cause.
The most common locations for skin tags include:
- Beneath the breasts
- Genital area
Generally, any point of friction could be at greater risk of skin tag formation. In rare cases, skin tags may accompany other medical conditions such as Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome. Diabetics tend to have more skin tags, and the human papillomavirus (HPV) is often present in patients with skin tags, suggesting it may play a role, as well.
Diagnosing skin tags
Your doctor can verify a skin tag with a simple visual exam. The flesh is typically soft and easy to move, flesh-colored or darker, typically with a uniform appearance. Peduncles may or may not be present.
While it’s tempting to self-diagnose skin tags, there are other, potentially harmful growths that may resemble skin tags and should be medically treated. While a skin tag is never a concern, these near-imposters could be. Growths that are firm and don’t move easily, or those that aren’t a normal flesh color or darker version of a normal skin tone are suspicious and should be checked promptly. Multicolored growths aren’t skin tags, and they, too, should be examined medically as soon as possible.
Treatment and removal
Skin tags are easily snipped, frozen, or electrically desiccated in a doctor’s office setting. Snipping immediately removes the growth, while freezing and desiccation cause the tag to whither and die over a period of time.
There’s usually no medical reason to remove skin tags, so it’s usually a cosmetic procedure with aesthetics in mind. Sometimes, though, a skin tag can be twisted, cutting off its blood supply. In such a case, it can become uncomfortable or even painful.
Contact Wandisan-Rosete Medical Group by phone at 209-226-4308, or by using the online appointment link, to schedule a visit to remove your skin tags. You’ll feel and look better saying goodbye to these fleshy visitors.