7 Frequently Asked Questions About Skin Tags

Skin tags, acrochordons, and cutaneous tags all refer to small, fleshy growths that hang from the skin by a thin stalk. You may have seen these little balls of skin on other people’s necks or on your own underarms. They’re common enough to affect at least 25% of all individuals, but they’re also mysterious enough to warrant questions. For example, are skin tags dangerous? Or is it possible to remove them without professional medical help?

If you’ve had these questions in mind at some point, you’ve found the right article. Here are 7 frequently asked questions about skin tags answered!

All About Skin Tags: 7 Common Questions Answered

1. Are Skin Tags Dangerous?

Short answer: No, they’re not.

Long answer: Skin tags are simply fleshy skin-coloured growths made up of collagen fibres and blood vessels that hang off the skin. Yes, they can be classified as tumors, or odd growths that serve no purpose in the body. However, skin tags in particular are benign tumors, unlike cancerous or malignant counterparts.

That being said, skin tags can become irritated or infected if they keep rubbing against other surfaces. They may also be a nuisance if they frequently catch on jewelry or clothes. Removal is often for the sake of convenience or aesthetics.

You should only really worry if a skin tag grows, changes color, or starts to bleed and itch. Regardless, you can always consult a dermatologist about new growths on your skin to be sure.

2. What Causes Skin Tags?

There isn’t a single exact cause that is directly linked to skin tags’ occurrence. There are several factors that influence the prevalence of skin tags, however:

  • Location on the Body. Skin tags tend to appear in parts that often experience friction, such as the armpit, groin, and other folds of the skin.

  • Age. Skin tags are more common in adults, especially individuals over the age of 60.

  • Underlying Health Conditions. Skin tags are often seen in overweight and obese individuals, as well as people suffering from diabetes. Overweight individuals have more skin folds on their bodies. Also, studies have shown that the presence of multiple skin tags may be an early sign of diabetes.

  • Pregnancy. Expectant mothers are more prone to developing skin tags because of all the hormonal changes in their bodies.

Also, despite their unsightly appearance, skin tags don’t result from poor hygiene.

3. How Do I Prevent Skin Tags?

Skin tags aren’t completely preventable, but you can follow certain precautions to reduce your chances of getting them:

  • Live a Healthier Life. As earlier stated, overweight, obese, and diabetic individuals are more likely to develop skin tags. Avoid these conditions by adapting a healthy diet, with less sugar and saturated fat, and exercising regularly.

  • Wear Looser Clothing. Tight clothes rub against the skin more. They also prevent the skin from breathing, resulting in more sweat and more friction.

  • Keep Your Skin Dry. After showering, pat your skin completely dry with your towel. Later on, use medicated powder to keep skin folds from becoming sweaty and sticky.

Is it a Skin Tag, a Mole, or a Wart?

Skin tags can easily be mistaken for moles or warts, which are also common skin growths. However, there are a few key differences to help you tell them apart:

  • Skin tags are easily distinguished by how they hang from the skin with only a narrow stalk keeping them in place. Aside from that, they’re smooth and flesh-colored. Skin tags are often a few millimeters across, although some growth measure up to a half-inch in diameter.

  • Warts have a rough and bumpy surface, often the same color as the rest of the skin.  They often measure 1 to 10 cm in diameter. They’re caused by the human papillomavirus, making them contagious.

  • Moles are often flat and pink to brown in color. They’re also symmetrical, either round or oval-shaped, and usually less than 6 mm in diameter. Some moles may grow hair. Moles are the most likely of these three growths to develop into skin cancer, although the chance is still quite low (1 in 3000 for typical moles; 1 in 100 for atypical moles).

Despite these general differences, there are rare cases of moles or carcinomas closely resembling skin tags. There are also skin tags that suddenly change color because of a blood clot and not because of emerging skin cancer. Again, it’s advisable to visit a professional who can confirm the nature of a new skin growth through medical dermatology.

4. Are Skin Tags Contagious?

No. Unlike warts, skin tags don’t spread to other parts of the body or to other people, even through direct contact. Removing one skin tag doesn’t directly lead to the growth of new tags, either.

Some people might notice new skin tags after having one removed from a certain part of the body. However, this simply means that the affected area is more prone to skin tags by default.

5. Can I Remove a Skin Tag Myself?

There are several DIY skin tag removal methods circulating on the Internet nowadays. However, if you try removing the tag yourself, you can end up with an infected wound, an unsightly scar, and other complications. It may also be quite painful if you’re dealing with a larger skin tag.

Over-the-counter medications for skin tag removal may be safer than DIY alternatives. The problem now lies in the application, however. People often end up applying more of the product on surrounding skin instead of the actual tag, causing additional blisters and scars.

In the end, your best bet for getting rid of skin tags is to consult a board-licensed dermatologist. These skin care professionals use only sterile and safe instruments to remove skin tags.

6. What Skin Tag Treatments Are Available?

There are currently several ways that your dermatologist may remove your skin tag. These methods may be slightly invasive, but they all provide instant results.

  • Cryosurgery. Liquid nitrogen is applied to the skin tag, freezing it off.

  • Electrocautery. The hot blade of an electrocautery tool is used to burn through the base of a skin tag.

  • Surgical Removal. After the application of anaesthetic, the skin tag is cut off with a surgical scissor or a scalpel. The wound is usually cauterized afterwards to stop bleeding and prevent the tag from regrowing.

Worried that these procedures will cause blemishes on your skin? You’ll be relieved to know that dermatologists are trained to remove skin tags with precision, leaving virtually no scars.

ALSO READ: From Causes to Treatments: Your One-Stop Guide to Melasma

Even after reading this list, you might still have additional questions about skin tags. You may also be considering skin tag treatment now that you know your best options. Get all the answers you need by scheduling an appointment with the board-certified dermatologists of Skin MD!

Aside from providing professional dermatological advice, our skin experts can introduce you to the safest procedures to achieve blemish-free skin. Contact us today to learn more.

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