A skin tag, or acrochordon (pl. acrochorda), is a small benign tumor that forms primarily in areas where the skin forms creases (or rubs together), such as the neck, armpit and groin. They may also occur on the face, usually on the eyelids. Perianal skin tags can be associated with Crohn's disease. Acrochorda are generally harmless and painless and usually do not grow or change over time. Though tags up to a half-inch long have been seen, they are typically the size of a grain of rice. The surface of an acrochordon may be smooth or irregular in appearance and is often raised from the surface of the skin on a fleshy stalk called a peduncle. Microscopically, an acrochordon consists of a fibrovascular core, sometimes also with fat cells, covered by an unremarkable epidermis. However, tags may become irritated by shaving, clothing, jewellery or eczema.
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.
Factors associated with pregnancy are setup for skin tags. The body is in a general state of growth during pregnancy and all kinds of skin lesions grow during this time. That state of growth, coupled with a heavier-than-normal body weight and possible gestational diabetes (which may be correlated to skin tags), and increased friction in areas of rubbing, like the inner thighs or underarms, can all lead to skin tags during pregnancy.
But there’s an even bigger reason you should visit an expert. After dermatologists remove a growth, they’ll look at it under a microscope. “There are things that look like skin tags but are cancerous,” says Dr. Rossi. That doesn’t mean you should freak out if you do find a skin tag. Most will just be benign, but you won’t know for sure until you’ve asked. Plus, checking a skin tag is a “good excuse” to get your doctor to check the rest of your body for skin cancer and atypical or malignant growths, says Dr. Rossi. Next, read up on these things you should never, ever do to your skin.
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Burning the skin tag. If cutting or freezing the tag off isn’t an option, the dermatologist may burn the skin tag off. The skin tag and surrounding area will be cleaned. The doctor then uses a small piece of wire that is heated with an electrical current to burn the stalk of the tag. The heat will help prevent the skin tag from bleeding. The tag should fall off following the procedure.
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