Don’t impulsively deem any protruding bump as a skin tag; after all, there is an overwhelming number of things it could be—moles and seborrheic keratoses can closely resemble skin tags. Even worse, it could be something that requires medical treatment such as genital warts (possible indication of a sexually transmitted disease). Some growths could also be an extension of glands on the skin, and they can get infected if you’re poking at them at home. As a rule of thumb, if the tag is pigmented, see a dermatologist to get it evaluated. And here are 11 other skin mysteries you should know about.
According to Live Science, a skin tag is basically just a skin growth that can be smooth or irregular. It may attach to the skin by a stalk. But Katy Burris, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University and board-certified dermatologist practicing at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, puts it simply: “A skin tag is a soft growth of normal skin that appears like a small tag. They tend to appear in areas of high friction, where skin may rub clothing or other skin.”
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which begins in skin cells called melanocytes and affects more than 53,600 people in the United States each year. These melanocytes can grow together to form benign moles which, after a change in size, shape, or color can be a sign of melanoma. Caused by sun exposure, early detection becomes extremely important to avoid a spread to other areas of the body. Diagnosis is confirmed through a biopsy of the abnormal skin and treatment depends on the extent and characteristics of the patient. Metastatic melanoma is melanoma that has spread to various organs.
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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.”
If you notice a growth on your skin, don't assume it's a skin tag right away. Check with a doctor first, as it can signify a more severe condition. If the growth is confirmed to be a skin tag and you want to remove it manually, sterilize your tools and check for any allergic reactions first, particularly if applying essential oils. If home remedies don't work, you may visit a dermatologist as a last resort.
Dr. Lam performs careful mole removal based on the type of mole one has. If the mole is relatively flat and not very unsightly, he may elect to cauterize it off to minimize the cost and recovery compared to a surgically incised mole removal. However, if the mole is elevated and/or unsightly, he may excise the mole to ensure that it is properly eradicated since cautery can lead to recurrence. As seen in the Figure, elevated moles have a portion that remains under the skin that will lead to recurrence if not excised, so cauterization of raised moles most oftentimes fails.
Recognize the benefits of professional medical care. It is very tempting to treat skin tags at home, but your doctor’s care offers some unique benefits. They will use sterile instruments to prevent infection. They will also rub on numbing cream to reduce your pain during and after the procedure. In addition, some of the methods, such as cauterization, are so advanced that they rarely leave a noticeable scar.
Widely known as a very acidic agent, tea tree oil becomes one of the most impressive ways on how to get rid of skin tags fast and naturally. It will help dry out the skin tags and make them fall off the skin without causing any pain. In addition, the antiseptic present in tea tree oil protects effectively the skin as the tag is significantly eliminated.
I went on my way after my doctor’s appointment, relieved. But maybe I shouldn’t have been. Many doctors I've spoken to say people with obesity are more likely to get skin tags due to the increase in skin friction. I probably weighed 120 pounds (lbs) booted out in snow gear. But there are other risk factors for skin tags — factors that, if you’re suffering from them, may be worth investigating.