At Rendon Center, our board-certified dermatologists may know them as acrochordons. You know them as pesky little growths that tend to show up on areas where there are skin folds.
Although they are not a health concern, skin tags often get caught on clothing or jewelry. We remove them in a simple procedure at Rendon Center.
What are skin tags?
Clinically called “acrochordons,” skin tags are common, benign skin-colored growths that resemble a small, soft balloon attached to the surface skin by a slender stalk. This stalk is called a peduncle. Skin tags are harmless growths, and people can develop anywhere from just one or two up to hundreds of them. They are equally common in both men and women, especially after the age of 50. New skin tags don’t tend to develop after a person reaches their 70th birthday. Obese people tend to develop more skin tags. They can appear anywhere on your body, though these areas are most common:
- Area under the breasts
Early on, a skin tag may be as small as a flat pinhead-sized bump. Most skin tags are small, from 2-5 mm, or about a third or half the size of a pencil eraser. But they can become as large as a grape or fig.
What causes skin tags to develop?
Acrochordons occur when the body produces extra cells in the skin’s top layers. Most skin tags are small, from 2-5 mm, or about a third or half the size of a pencil eraser. They tend to form in skin folds and areas where natural movement causes the skin to rub against itself.
Some research points to a possible link to the human papillomavirus (HPV). Insulin resistance, as in type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, may also play a role in the development of skin tags. One study found the presence of multiple skin tags associated with insulin resistance, high body mass indexes, and high triglycerides.
Skin tags are also common during pregnancy. This is likely due to the hormones and weight gain.
How are skin tags removed?
Skin tags are harmless, and they don’t require removal. They won’t turn into cancerous growths. But they can be unsightly and bothersome. If they occur in an area where you are constantly bumping or rubbing them, they can be painful.
If you have some skin tags, you may have researched how to get rid of them on the Internet with at-home treatments, but these create a higher risk of complications, including excessive bleeding and infection.
It’s a far better idea to come see the board-certified dermatologists at Rendon Center.
These are the methods we use to remove skin tags:
- Surgery — This sounds more involved than it is. All we do is snip off the skin tag at its base with a pair of surgical scissors. To minimize any possible scarring and recurrence, we follow the snip excision with ablation of the base using our Candela Pulsed Dye Laser. Usually only a tiny bandage is needed to close the spot afterwards.
- Cauterization — We use low level electrical current to heat and remove the skin tag. This burns off the skin tag at its base and seals the minor wound at the same time.
- Cryosurgery — We spray the skin tag with liquid nitrogen, which freezes the skin cells and causes the tag to fall off in a few days.
Is skin tag removal painful?
In most cases there is little if any pain involved with removing a skin tag. However, in more sensitive locations, or in the case of larger skin tags, we will opt to inject a small amount of local anesthetic into the area before we remove the growth.
Can I prevent skin tags from forming?
Other than maintaining a healthy weight, which reduces areas where skin can rub, there isn’t anything you can do to prevent skin tags from forming. They are common on adult skin, particularly after you turn 50.
What problems can skin tags create?
Skin tags are common and harmless. They are noncancerous and not a cause for concern. If their appearance bothers you, or if a skin tag tends to get caught on clothing or jewelry, you’ll probably want to get it removed by one of our Rendon Center dermatologists. The procedure is quite simple.
The only real problem with skin tags comes when people try to remove them at home. Here’s why you shouldn’t do that.
Why shouldn’t I just snip this skin tag off at home?
Skin tags seem so wimpy that’s it tempting to go home and pluck, snip, or otherwise lop them off. The Internet says to put apple cider vinegar or tea tree oil on them. Or you can choke them with dental floss.
Probably a better idea to come see one of our dermatologists at Rendon Center Dermatology to let us remove your skin tag. Here’s why.
- They bleed like nobody’s business — You’d be amazed at how much a snipped or pulled off skin tag can bleed. The bleeding is hard to stop, and this can hurt quite a bit. Doesn’t seem appropriate for the growth, but there you go. When we freeze or cauterize a skin tag, that also closes the blood vessel.
- It may be something else — Not being a dermatologist, can you be sure that skin tag isn’t really a wart or even a skin cancer lesion? Pulling part of it off can leave cancer cells in place, and they can multiply or even spread. No good.
- They could lead to an infection — Because the bleeding can be so tough to stem, removing a skin tag at home is a way to invite an infection. Do you know where those clippers have been?
It’s not that we’re being melodramatic here, but it’s probably a better idea to come see us and have us get rid of your skin tag in just a few minutes.