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.
At Skin Wellness Center of Alabama, we offer cutting-edge skin care and dermatology services to our patients in the Greater Birmingham area, including Hoover and Homewood. At our offices in Birmingham & Chelsea, AL, our certified dermatologists are here to listen to your concerns and offer the individualized, high level of patient care you seek. We believe in making care accessible and affordable, and we will go out of our way to accommodate your visit.
Cutting the skin tag off. Most doctors prefer to remove a skin tag by cutting it off quickly in office. The procedure will begin with cleaning the area with an antiseptic solution. Depending on the size and location of the skin tag, the doctor may rub a numbing solution on your skin. Then, the doctor will use a very sharp tool to simply slice the tag away. The area will be cleaned again and a bandage will be applied. You can expect to feel very little pain during the procedure. Most only feel a pinprick sensation. Occasionally. tag removal may require the doctor to stitch the resulting wound. (5)
Cauterization. Burning off a skin tag should never be attempted at home. This is a procedure that must be conducted by an experienced medical professional. Electrocauterization requires a special tool that is heated and then carefully applied to the skin tag; the skin tag may not come off immediately. It may fall off in the hours or days following the procedure.
As for the discomfort factor: “The treatment stings for a few seconds, and it turns the area red and inflamed. Some people form little blisters or scab over in the few days after it, as the extreme cold has destroyed the skin cells in order to make the skin tag go away. So that’s my go-to if they’re very small, like a tiny, fleshy bump of a skin tag.
Moles are pigmented skin growths, also called nevi, that can appear anywhere on the body singly or in groups. Almost all adults have at least a few and some may have up to 40. Normally appearing as a dark brown spot, a mole may also be blue, black, pink or flesh-colored or may be raised and highly visible. Some may change over time or even gradually disappear. Whatever their color or shape, most moles are harmless and cause no symptoms other than discomfort when they rub against something.
While they can turn up anywhere, skin tags tend to appear where there is frequent friction, such as the neck, breasts, groin, and underarms. Ultimately, there is no evidence that skin tags will lead to any serious skin condition: They’re mostly an aesthetic annoyance. Regardless, most dermatologists encourage you to have them checked out—and removed, if you want. The only link to danger is from one study from the Indian Journal of Dermatology, which suggested that skin tags may be a sign of underlying heart issues. You could get your heart checked out, but the one research connection shouldn’t concern anyone too much.
This method may be the most effective method to remove skin tags, but you should not do this method at home. Cutting or scratching the skin tag off yourself is dangerous. It leaves you susceptible to infections and if done incorrectly can cause excessive bleeding. If you are interested in having a skin tag cut off, see a doctor to do the procedure safely.
Freezing the skin tag. Sometimes, a dermatologist will choose to remove a skin tag through freezing it off with super cold liquid nitrogen. In this method, the dermatologist cleans the area first and applies numbing cream. Then the dermatologist will then swab or spray a small amount of liquid nitrogen on the area. The area may tingle or burn slightly. The skin tag should fall off in 10 to 14 days. (6)
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.
Moles can be removed a number of ways, most commonly by numbing the area and then shaving them off or cutting them out and closing the area with stiches. The method of removal is determined by a number of factors including appearance, size, location, and type of mole. For example, if a mole is just bothersome because it is raised, shaving it flat is usually the best approach. Similarly, if a mole is abnormal appearing and small, it also is typically shaved. Conversely, moles that are growing irritated hairs are usually best treated with complete removal and closure with stiches. Moles can grow back after shaving (and occasionally even after removing and closing area with stiches).
Researchers have noticed that people with diabetes and insulin resistance are more likely to have multiple skin tags. Obesity seems to increase the risk, too. Studies have found that the heavier people are, the more skin tags they are likely to have. That may be because skin tags are more likely to pop up in folds of skin that rub against each other.
Skin tags themselves have a core of fibers and ducts, nerve cells, fat cells and a layer of skin surrounding it. They may have a stalk and generally look like a small piece of hanging skin. Skin tags may have a smooth surface or an irregular surface. They are often raised and either slightly brown or flesh colored. They generally start quite small and flat, like the bump on a pinhead. Sizes vary, and they can grow up to 5 cm in size. (2)
Soft, fleshy growths that hang from the skin are commonly referred to as skin tags. Acrochordons — as they are referred to within the medical community — are not cancerous. They are generally considered a cosmetic concern, not a medical issue. They rarely cause pain or discomfort. But many people find them unsightly and want to know how to remove skin tags. (1)
Not sure if your skin lesion is actually a wart? Dr Yip explains how to tell the two apart: “A skin tag is usually soft and hangs off the skin with a narrow base. Warts are rough, scaly and raised bumps on the skin surface caused by viruses, therefore they can spread easily to other body areas and may be contagious to others.” If you can’t figure out which one has taken up residence on your body, it’s best to see your GP or dermatologist. Moles can also look similar to skin tags, so when in doubt (as some moles can be cancerous), it’s always best to get them checked by a skin professional.
The vast majority of skin tags are benign tumours but one study of 1,335 lesions found that four were basal cell carcinomas and one was a squamous cell carcinoma. Nevertheless, the authors suggest that the malignancy potential of skin tags is low. Patients experience few, if any, problems with skin tags although pruritus and discomfort can occur if the lesions are snagged by jewellery.
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.
After-care is vital to achieve excellent outcomes. Dr. Lam does not charge extra for this care but believes it is important for you to return several times throughout the year to ensure proper healing. It may be only 1 to 2 times but typically 4 to 6 times over a year about every 1 to 2 months depending on how the wound heals. Dr. Lam uses KTP laser (no downtime) to manage any raised or red scars and injectable scar dissolvers also as needed. He may also further refine the incision with dermabrasion or micro silicone injections to ultimately finesse the result, again only as needed and without charge.