We’ve already established they’re small, fleshy and odd-looking, but seriously, what are they?! “Skin tags are harmless fleshy skin-coloured growths made up of collagen fibres and blood vessels that hang off the skin, and can range from a few millimetres to a few centimetres in size,” explains Canberra-based Consultant Dermatologist and Skin Surgeon, Dr Leona Yip. She adds that you’ll most likely find skin tags - also known as acrochordons - in skin folds like your neck, armpit, under the breasts and around the groin. “These are areas that are prone to skin friction where the opposing sides of skin rubs against each other.” They can also form along the lash line of the eyelid.
A biopsy usually involves taking cells or samples from the mole to be analyzed in a lab, according to the Mayo Clinic. Moles are usually just clusters of pigment cells called melanocytes, according to the Cleveland Clinic, but sometimes they can become cancerous. A biopsy helps determine if there is anything wrong with the mole, like melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Let the doctor cut off your tag's blood supply. With this method, called ligation, your doctor will apply a small band to the base of the tag. This will cut off the blood supply to the upper portion of the tag and cause it to die and fall off your skin. The process can take up to a few days and, depending on the size and location of the tag, may be a bit more painful.
Dr Yip notes that while it’s uncommon to experience an infected skin tag, it’s likely they may become red, inflamed and itchy if they're constantly rubbing against clothing and jewellery. “If there is infection, it is usually red, swollen and painful and may have pus discharge and a malodour [an unpleasant odour].” If this occurs, apply an antiseptic cream to mild irritations or see a dermatologist if the pain is more severe.
Tell your doctor if the skin tag is painful, itchy, bleeding or constantly catching on clothes or jewelry. Any of this can help the case if you're fighting for your health insurance to foot the bill. And if insurance does pay for it they will pay for up to 14 symptomatic skin tags at one time, explains Geraghty. "For people who come in with quite a few skin tags, it’s good to just get them all done on the same day just from an insurance standpoint."
These small (often) flesh-colored benign growths can develop anywhere on the face or body. And both men and women (of all ethnicities) are vulnerable to the condition. You may not even be aware that you have skin tags. The problems begin when they’re easy to see, form in a cluster or they grow in size. They can also become irritated, infected or blood-filled.
If the procedure is for cosmetic purposes, then it is unlikely that insurance will pay for the costs. Most cosmetic procedures are not valid for insurance coverage. If the mole is diagnosed as cancerous, insurance will most likely cover the removal. As soon as the mole is evaluated by the doctor, we will verify insurance to make certain of any coverage that may exist.
Other skin conditions such as warts and moles can resemble skin tags. Since some moles may be cancerous, it’s best to have your skin tags examined by a doctor. Your dermatologist or family doctor will be able to diagnose skin tags. They’ll likely do this through a visual exam. If they have any doubt about the diagnosis, they may also perform a biopsy.