Have you seen a small piece of soft, hanging skin that may have a stalk-like structure? They are called skin tags and can appear anywhere on your body. Extra parts of skin that grow beyond the surface of your body.
They are harmless growths and are more of a cosmetic issue than anything else. They are very common and seem to show up out of nowhere. But they are especially seen where your skin rubs against other skin.
These growths are known by various names. These tags are very common and generally occur after midlife. They affect both men and women equally. Though the causes of skin tags are not always known, their treatment is pretty straightforward – they are easily removed
Once you identify them, the skin treatment becomes very easy. They can be as small as one mm and as large as one cm, occasionally can be ever larger.
What is a Skin Tag?
Skin tags are common skin-colored growths that resemble a small, soft balloon. The medical name for skin tag is acrochordon. Some people also call them “skin tab” as they are a kind of skin disorder.
These are harmless growths that can vary in number. Males and females are equally prone to developing tags. People who are obese are in a way associated with skin tag development.
Although some tags might fall off spontaneously, most of them persist once formed.
During its early stage, tags may be as small as a flattened pinhead-sized bump. Most tags typically are small of the size of 2 mm-5 mm in diameter. Some tags may become as large as a big grape that is about 1 cm in diameter or even bigger.
Skin Tag – Interesting Facts
Skin tags generally do not require treatment or a visit to your doctor. But if you choose to remove a tag, it may be possible to do so with products already available in your medicine cabinet.
- Skin growth is a small, soft, skin-colored benign skin growth. It is attached to your body with a stalk.
- These tags can occur on your eyelids, neck, groin folds, armpits and under breasts.
- These tags are probably the single most common bump seen on adult skin.
- Tags are mostly harmless but can be an annoying and irritating skin problem.
- Almost everyone will develop a tag at some time in their lives.
- One person can have one to hundreds of tags.
- Middle-aged people and obese adults are most prone to tags.
- Getting rid of a tag is not a complex process as there are several home remedies and surgical options available.
- Some of the destructive treatment options commonly used are freezing, strangulation with a ligature, burning and snipping.
Where do Skin Tags Appear?
Tags can occur almost anywhere on your body which is covered by skin. However, the two most common zones are the neck and armpits. Other common body areas where tags develop are the eyelids, upper chest, buttock folds, and groin folds.
These tags are typically seen to occur where your skin rubs against itself or against your clothing. Babies who are plump might also develop tags in areas where their skin rubs against the skin. Probably on the sides of the neck.
Younger children have been seen to develop tags at the upper eyelid areas, often areas where they might rub their eyes. Older children and teenagers are seen to develop tags in the underarm area. As the skin in these areas is more prone to friction and repetitive skin rubbing from sports activities.
Signs and Symptoms Caused by Skin Tag
Except for the cosmetic appearance, these tags generally cause no discomfort or physical pain. These tiny skin growths only cause symptoms when they are repeatedly irritated. For example, by the collar of your shirt or your dress. Cosmetic reasons are the prime reason for skin tag removal.
In case you encounter the following condition, then treatment is a must.
- If the tag is irritating you. Or it has become red after bleeding (hemorrhage) or black from twisting.
- Death of the skin tissue (necrosis).
Sometimes, they may be disturbed by clothing, jewellry, or seat belts, causing pain or discomfort. In general, they are benign growths and are not cancerous in nature.
Occasionally, a tag might fall off without any pain or discomfort. This occurs after the tag was twisted on the stalk base, interrupting its blood flow.
Skin Tag Removal – Methods
Tags that are very tiny may rub off on their own. However, most tags stay attached to your skin. In general, most tags don’t require treatment. If they hurt or bother you, you might opt to have them removed. Your doctor may remove your tags by any of the following procedures:
1 Cryotherapy: it is the process of freezing the tag with liquid nitrogen.
2 Surgical removal: Removing the tag with scissors or a scalpel.
3 Electrosurgery: Another commonly used procedure is to burn off the tag with high-frequency electrical energy.
4 Ligation: This is a process of removal of the tag by tying it off with a surgical thread. This is done to cut off its blood flow.
Most of these are simple procedures. Removal of small skin tags does not usually require anesthesia. Your doctor might use local anesthesia when removing large or multiple tags. You can also try natural remedies to remove tags. These include tea tree oil, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.
It’s not a good idea to try to remove tags on your own. Many websites offer different instructions, but you should consult your doctor before applying any of those procedures. Even in a sterile environment, in your doctor’s clinic – removing the tag might cause bleeding, burns, and infection. It is best to let your doctor handle the job. You need to be serious about your skin care after the procedure.
Who Tend to Get Skin Tags?
More than half of the population has been reported to have some tags at some point in time. Although tags develop later in life, they are not present at birth. These growths may occur in anyone, mostly they arise in adulthood.
They are more common in middle-aged people. They tend to increase during the age 60. Children and toddlers may also develop tags, particularly in the neck and underarm areas. However, tags are more common in overweight people.
Hormone elevations that happen during pregnancy may cause an increase in the formation of such tags. Meaning tags are more frequently seen in pregnant women. These growths are essentially harmless and do not have to be treated unless they bother you. Such tags that are bothersome could be easily removed after pregnancy, typically by a dermatologist.
Skin tags are generally not associated with any other diseases. But it has been noticed in a group of obese individuals could develop a condition called acanthosis nigricans.
Acanthosis nigricans is a kind of skin condition that causes a dark discoloration in your body folds. It is typically seen in the armpits, groin and neck region.
Acanthosis nigricans are often the sign of a more serious health problem, such as prediabetes. But these skin patches tend to disappear after successfully treating the root condition.
Certain structures on the skin resemble tags but are not. Accessory tragus and an accessory digit are often confused with tags. Pathological examination with a biopsy of the tissue can help to distinguish if the growth is a tag or any other condition.
Will Removing a Skin Tag Cause More to Grow?
There is no evidence to prove the same. However, there has been no evidence to prove that tags spread or ‘seed’ by removing them.
It is only that some people are simply more prone to developing tags and might have new growth periodically. It has been observed that some individuals periodically remove tags at annual or even quarterly intervals.
Is a Skin Tag a Tumor?
Tags or these skin growths are a type of harmless skin benign tumor. All of these tags are generally not cancerous or malignant as it is called in medical terms. And hence do not become cancerous if left untreated.
There are extremely rare instances where a tag might become cancerous or precancerous. If your tag starts to bleed, grow, or display multiple colors like brown, pink, red or black, then it might require a biopsy. This is done basically to exclude other causes, including skin cancer.
At times it is possible to mistake tags for other lesions that could be cancerous. Your dermatologist will ultimately determine whether this is the case by examination and biopsy test.
What Does a Skin Tag Look like Under a Microscope?
Before looking at the tag under the microscope, few laboratory preparations of the tissue need to be done. The skin under examination is stained with a stain called hematoxylin and eosin (“H&E”).
When observed under the microscope, there is a colored spherical tissue attached to a small stalk. The outer layer or the epidermis is purple in color and overlies a pink core or dermis.
The outer layer of your skin shows overgrowth of the normal skin. This growth encloses an underlying layer of skin in which the normally present collagen fibers appear abnormally swollen and loose. Usually, there are no moles, hairs, or other skin structures present in the tags.
Your doctor can destroy the majority of tags. Sometimes the tissue is sent for a microscopic exam by your doctor. Then a specialist known as a pathologist will determine the exact condition and check if any abnormality such as skin cancer is present. If you have irregular skin growths that are larger, bleed, or have an unusual look, might require pathology examination. This is to make sure that there are no irregular cells or skin cancers.
Some common skin conditions that might look similar to tags include moles, seborrheic keratoses, cysts, warts, milia, neurofibromas, and nevus lipomatosus. Rare skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma at times might look like skin tags.