HELLO, MAYO CLINIC Several places on my body have developed skin tags, and they’re very noticeable. These skin tags seem to be multiplying at an alarming rate as I get older. When do skin tags form, and can they cause harm? Do I have to see a dermatologist to get rid of them, or is there something I can do at home?
ANSWER: Skin tags are common, and they can become even more common as people age, which is what seems to be happening to you. The unfortunate truth is that the causes of skin tags remain unknown, but the good news is that these growths are harmless and rarely cancerous.
Skin tag removal is an easy procedure that typically yields good results. However, skin tag removal should only be attempted by a doctor to prevent any unwarranted health risks. In rare cases, an ophthalmologist may need to remove a skin tag from the area around a patient’s eyelid. There is no evidence that trying a home remedy will help.
It’s important to note that skin tags, also known as acrochordons, soft fibromas, and fibroepithelial polyps, are completely harmless. They are typically flesh-colored bumps of tissue that are attached to the skin’s surface by a thin stalk. The bottom may differ in hue, surface, length, and breadth.
Consultation with a dermatologist can help determine whether the growths are skin tags or another skin disorder that has a similar appearance. Moles, warts, and seborrheic keratoses are examples of benign conditions, while melanomas are an example of a malignant skin cancer.
The appearance of multiple skin tags should raise suspicion for a syndrome of the endocrine or hormonal systems, such as polycystic ovary syndrome or acromegaly. Treatment should never precede an evaluation by a medical professional.
Skin tags can form as a result of friction. Usually, they show up in the folds of the skin or on the seams of clothing. Scars tend to appear in creases of the skin, like those found in the groin, the armpits, the neck, and the eyelids. Obesity may play a role in the development of skin tags, and genetics may also play a role. Skin tags are a natural part of aging, and there is nothing you can do to prevent them.
Unless they are repeatedly irritated by jewelry, clothing, or other items, skin tags typically do not cause any symptoms. Although the tags pose no health risk, they should be removed. One may seek treatment for a skin tag for aesthetic reasons or because it causes discomfort.
After removal, a specimen may be sent to a pathology lab for analysis to confirm or disprove the absence of skin cancer.
Removal with sterile surgical scissors, liquid nitrogen freezing, or electrical burning (cautery) are all options if a skin tag is benign. These procedures typically only cause mild discomfort. While small tags can be surgically removed without the use of anesthesia, larger growths may necessitate the administration of local anesthetic. For procedures involving multiple tags, an anesthetic cream applied in advance may prove useful. A doctor may recommend surgical excision of a skin tag if it is particularly large or has a wide base.
The process of removing a skin tag can cause some discomfort or even infection. Immediate office removal of a skin tag with surgical scissors or excision is possible, but it carries the risk of minor bleeding and local infection. There is a chance of darkening or lightening of the skin after freezing or burning, and the skin tag may take a little while to fall off. If the tag doesn’t fall off, grows back, or new tags appear in other areas, a second treatment may be required.
Consult your primary care physician about the safest and most effective method for removing skin tags. Perhaps an in-office procedure can remedy the problem. It’s also possible that a dermatologist will be recommended for further examination. The remedies are easy to use and very efficient. Doctor of Dermatology Jason Sluzevich from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida
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