Dr. Kolachalam, Skin Tags
Skin tags can be some of the most problematic skin defects a person can have. Not only are they unsightly, they can also be uncomfortable if located in the wrong place on your body. The appearance of skin tags can be very off putting and If a person has too many skin tags they may lead to anxiety, depression and an overall loss of self confidence.
So, what is a skin tag?
These little “hanging chads” are really a small tumor (benign) that form in locations on a person’s body that tend to crease or fold frequently. Because of this, they usually appear on our armpits, face (eyelids especially), neck and groin areas. Skin tags are generally harmless and are usually no larger than the size of a piece of grain. Although most tags are very small, some can grow to half of an inch in rare cases. Once formed, they can also be irritated by shaving, tight clothes or necklaces, rings, etc.
Where do skin tags occur?
Skin tags can occur almost anywhere on the body covered by skin. However, the two most common areas for skin tags are the neck and armpits. Other common areas for the development of skin tags include the eyelids, upper chest (particularly under the female breasts), buttock folds, and groin folds. Tags are typically thought to occur in characteristic friction locations where skin rubs against skin or clothing.
Common Myth: Skin tags grow more if you remove them
There is no evidence that removing a skin tag will cause more tags to grow. There is no expectation of causing skin tags to “seed” or spread by removing them. In reality, some people are simply more prone to developing skin tags and may have new growths periodically. Some individuals require periodic removal of tags at annual or even quarterly intervals.
Is a skin tag a tumor?
Skin tags are a type of harmless skin growth or tumor, but they are completely benign. Tags are generally not cancerous (malignant) and don’t become cancerous if left untreated.
There are extremely rare instances where a skin tag may become precancerous or cancerous. Skin tag-like bumps that bleed, grow, or display multiple colors like pink, brown, red, or black can require a biopsy to exclude other causes like skin cancer.
How are skin tags treated?
It is important to keep in mind that skin tags usually do not have to be treated. Deciding not to have treatment is always a reasonable option if the growths are not bothersome. Occasionally, a tag may spontaneously fall off without any pain or discomfort. This may occur after the tag has twisted on itself at the stalk base, interrupting the blood flow to the tag.
Usually small tags may be removed easily without anesthesia, while larger growths may require some local anesthesia (injected Lidocaine) prior to removal. Application of a topical anesthesia cream (Betacaine cream or LMX 5% cream) prior to the procedure may be desirable in areas where there are a large number of tags.