Skin tags, medically referred to as acrochordons, are benign, typically brownish, soft, balloon-shaped structures that can form anywhere skin exists on the body. Skin tags will sometimes elastically stretch away from the surface of the skin, having a stalk termed a peduncle, and can range in size from the diameter of a pinhead to as large as five centimeters. Common places they are found are under the armpits, the neck region, the chest, the groin and on or around eyelids. It is not uncommon to observe skin tags growing together in groups.
There are a few commonly held explanations for what causes skin tags. Since skin tags are usually found in regions of folded skin, it is believed that skin tags form in some people because of skin-to-skin contact. Alternatively, some believe that skin tags – which occur in around 40 to 50 percent of the population – are genetic. This notion is furthered by observations, which demonstrate skin tags to express more likely in individuals where more than one related family member exhibits skin tags.
Some individuals tend to be more prone to skin tags than others for a wide range of different reasons. Aside from having a close relative that has skin tags being a reason, other risk factors include obesity (which increases the number of skin folds on the body), pregnancy, individuals with HPV, diabetes and illegal steroid use. Although skin tags themselves tend to be benign and non-cancerous in nature, the presence of skin tags may indicate that other underlying health problems exist as implied by the risk factors.
Although skin tags tend to be a nuisance, medically treating them is done for cosmetic purposes. In certain cases, they will be removed to remedy the problem of irritation occurring in or around the region where the skin tag resides. Some common methods used to remove skin tags are stated as follows:
- Excision: This method involves cutting the skin tag off with a scalpel.
- Cryosurgery: This method involves the application of liquid nitrogen to the skin tag to freeze it off.
- Cauterization: This method of removal involves using electrolysis to burn the skin tag from the patient’s body.
- Ligation: In this method, the goal is to cut the blood supply to the skin tag off.
If you have skin tags or have any questions about them, we at the Center for Dermatology can help. With the help of our highly trained staff, we can get rid of this cosmetic blemish that might be annoying to you. Contact us to schedule your consultation today.