By, Hairline International, Dermatology
Skin tags are painless growths on your body that are made up of blood vessels and collagen surrounded by an outer layer of skin. Usually seen in the folds of your skin, these non-cancerous growths can be found in your armpits, groin, eyelids, neck, thighs, and areas under the thighs, amongst other places.
Skin tags are sessile / peduculated growths and are attached to the skin by a small, thin stalk called a peduncle. It is this characteristic structure or shape that differentiates skin tags from other skin growths such as moles.
Skin tags are smaller than 2 mm in size and are flesh coloured. Skin tags can also be found under the eyelids in the shape of grains of rice. Depending on the location, skin tags can either be smooth and round, or wrinkly and asymmetrical. These occur in both men and women and the risk of skin tags increases with age. Older people (older than 50 years) are at a higher risk of getting these benign skin growths.
The exact cause of skin tags is still unclear. However, here are a few known causes or risk factors for skin tags apart from age:
- Friction- As skin tags usually show up in skin folds, friction according to some people, is a big risk factor for developing them.
- The human papilloma virus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer in women is thought to be an important factor in the development of skin tags according to several studies.
- Insulin resistance, a condition in which your body cells become less sensitive to insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes, is also implicated by several studies as a possible cause of skin tags.
- Obesity and high BMI (Body Mass Index)
- High triglyceride levels in the blood
- Skin tags are also a common side effect of pregnancy possibly due to the changes in hormones and weight gain during pregnancy.
Medical experts warn that multiple skin tags can be a sign of a hormone imbalance or an endocrine problem. This is the bad news but the good news is that skin tags don’t develop into skin cancer and they aren’t contagious.
Skin tags are not dangerous but they can be a real eye sore. Sometimes, they can also cause pain, but worry not, here’s what you can do to get rid of them:
- Cryotherapy- This method removes skin tags quickly and is a relatively painless treatment for small skin tags. In this forceps are dipped into liquid nitrogen for 15 seconds. These are then used to gently grasp the stalk of each skin tag for about 10 seconds. After 2 to 3 days, the tag falls off.
- Surgery- This involves removing the skin tag with scissors or a scalpel by a doctor. This treatment is recommended for larger skin tags. Here the doctor cuts off the growth under local anesthesia and slices it off with a scalpel.
- Electrosurgery- Dermatologists use high-frequency electrical energy to burn off skin tags. This usually leaves a scab which fades after some time.
- Lasers - Doctors use a mild anesthetic on your skin to keep the treatment from being painful and then they use a laser which gives out bursts of light of varying frequencies to burn the skin tags off your body.
- Ligation- Dermatologists cut off the blood circulation of a skin tag, causing it to die and fall off. This is achieved by tying the tag with a surgical thread. This procedure takes about 7 to 10 days to work. You should never try this at home as it can cause infections.
Infact, you should never try to remove skin tags on your own using DIY instructions as you can suffer from bleeding, burns, and infection.