By Dr. Malini Patil , Dermatology
A skin tag is a diminutive, harmless, extension of skin that is usually attached from beneath the skin by a tiny support stalk. These skin tags are seen in places which are exposed to frequent friction with clothes or areas that have more skin to skin friction. They hang out from the skin surface. They commonly occur in the neck, underarms, groin, and upper chest. Medically a skin tag is termed as an acrochordon. Often skin tags are also identified as soft warts, fibroma pendulum, pedunculated fibroma, or soft fibromas.
Reasons why they happen -
Skin tags comprise of blood vessels surrounded by skin and lose fibers of collagen. Collagen is a kind of protein located all through the body. Anybody can develop a skin tag irrespective of gender and age, but elder people are prone to skin tags especially those who have type 2 diabetes.
Skin tags tend to evolve in the layers of the skin folds, where the skin rubs against itself as mentioned earlier, but it is also observed that few individuals get skin tags without any such reason. This is also a reason why skin tags occur more in overweight people as they have more skin folds that are susceptible to chafing.
Why should you get them removed?
Most skin tags don’t need treatment as they are harmless, but at times people do tend to discard them for cosmetic purpose or may be out of discomfort when they rub against skin or clothing. Checking with your physician in case you doubt the shape of the skin tag and suspect a cancerous element. In such a scenario, you will be recommended biopsy for further proceedings if any.
How is a skin tag removed?
A skin tag is removed through a few procedures. Your doctor can consider any of the procedures mentioned below:
- Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy requires chilling the skin tag with nitrogen fluid. Your physician may spray or swab a little amount of liquid nitrogen onto the skin tag. After the treatment, you may have a small blister which will heal by itself.
- Surgical removal: In the case of surgical removal, the skin tag is cut with a scalpel or scissors. The cut might sometimes be deeper in which case the cut will require stitches. Surgical removal has the advantage of obliterating the skin tag, but there is a risk of minor bleeding. Removal of skin tags doesn’t require full anesthesia. Local anesthesia is sufficient.
- Electro Surgery: Electro Surgery is another remedy where the skin tag is burned with electrical energy in high-frequency. The heat is applied through the narrow stem that holds the skin tag to the skin.
- Ligation: Ligation is yet another method where a surgical thread is tied up to remove the tag.
There are also natural remedies, such as using lotions or essential oils over a period or also over the counter medicines but then a doctor’s advice is always essential to prevent the scope of any scarring, to bleed or other such side effects.