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While skin tags can appear just about anywhere, they're especially common in parts of your body that rub against clothing or skin. Skin tags are most common on the neck, armpits, groin, and eyelids. They also may appear on the chest and back and in skin creases. Women are likely to develop skin tags under the breasts, where the underwire of a bra may rub against the skin.
“My preferred method is snip excision (cutting off the skin tag base with sterile surgical scissors) and cautery of the base to help stop bleeding and reduces the chance of regrowth,” says Dr Yip. “This method allows multiple skin tags to be removed in the one session and is usually scarless. Extensive treatment may need local anaesthetic. Other methods used by dermatologists include cryotherapy (freezing), surgical excision and ablative laser.”
Your dermatologist may become concerned if one of your moles has changed shape or color, as this may be an indicator of skin cancer. Most moles are less than a ¼-inch in size, so any mole that is larger should be checked by your doctor. Identifying and treating skin cancers early helps avoid spreading of the cancerous cells to other parts of the body. Uncommon moles, also called dysplastic nevi, may:
But that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore skin tags. David Lorschter, MD, founder of Curology and a board-certified dermatologist in San Diego, notes there are exceptions. He says people with a genetic disorder called basal cell nevus system (BCNS) usually exhibit spots of basal cell skin cancer that look like — you guessed it — skin tags. Therefore, people with BCNS should have their skin tags biopsied and screened for cancer on a regular basis.
Congenital nevi are moles that are present at birth. Congenital nevi occur in about one in 100 people. These moles are slightly more likely to develop into melanoma (cancer) than are moles that appear after birth. A mole or freckle should be checked if it has a diameter of more than a pencil eraser or any characteristics of the ABCDEs of melanoma (see below).
The causes of skin tags are not entirely clear but their presence in skin fold areas suggests that friction or frequent irritation is a potential cause. The condition appears to have a genetic component (there is a tendency for skin tags to occur in families) but other potential causes include hormonal imbalances. For example, skin tags are associated with agromegaly, the growth hormone disorder.
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Although skin tags are primarily a cosmetic problem, that doesn’t mean they’re not significant enough to consult a doctor. For starters, they can still bleed when they come off, so dermatologists stress never trying to cut or pull off a skin tag on your own. One theory on skin tag removal is that tying it off with dental floss will remove it—a bad idea, according to Tanya Kormeili, MD, “This may remove the small ones, but some of the bigger ones have a larger blood supply and may become very painful as you strangulate the skin tag. They are easily removed in the office by a dermatologist.”
While the unpredictability of skin tags might give off the impression that they’re uncontrollable, this isn’t entirely true. Laura Korb Ferris, MD, says that skin tags are more common in overweight or obese people, and are also associated with insulin resistance and diabetes. As such, maintaining a healthy weight may help reduce skin tag trouble. Basically, think of tags as a barometer of your health. If you live a poor lifestyle, eat a lot of saturated fats, consume too much sugar, and maintain an unhealthy BMI, your body could be alerting you there’s a problem.
While definitely the smelliest choice on this list, crushed garlic has been used for generations to treat warts and skin tags. Simply crush a large clove of garlic with a knife to release the potent oils of the garlic, and then secure with a bandage over the skin tag. Best results will come with repeated overnight applications; in the morning, wash and dry the area well.
First, the good news: Skin tags are benign and cause no symptoms. These harmless growths of skin can be right on the skin surface or seem to sprout from a thin stalk of skin and hang off the body. Also called cutaneous tags, soft fibromas, acrochordons, and fibroepithelial polyps, skin tags are mostly flesh-colored growths, although some may be darker in color.
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