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.
If patients have a large number of skin tags or if the lesions are bothersome, then GP treatments include cryotherapy (with liquid nitrogen), surgical excision or burning off the skin tag with a Hyfrecator (an electrosurgical device). Both surgical excision and hyfrecation give instant results. With cryotherapy patients will often need a few treatments before the lesions completely clear.
Experts don't know the exact cause of skin tags, but they believe that these growths appear when skin rubs against skin. As such, skin tags are often found in armpits, or on the neck and groin.9 In other cases, your skin tag may be confused with a condition known as the Birt-Hogg-Dube (BHD) syndrome, a condition that produces growths on the skin that look exactly like skin tags.10
Moles are typically small, dark skin growths that develop from pigment-producing cells in the skin but they can be raised off the skin and very noticeable or they may contain dark hairs. The special cells that contain the pigment melanin are responsible for the brown color. They can be round, oval, flat, or raised. Most moles are brown, but colors can range from pinkish flesh tones to yellow, dark blue, or black.
Have a surgical excision if necessary. If the mole is cancerous, or if it's large and covers a big surface area, it will probably need to be removed using surgical excision. After administering local anesthesia, the dermatologist will make a deeper cut to remove the mole and surrounding tissues, preventing it from growing back. The wound is then closed using sutures designed to leave minimal scarring.
Every dermatologist has a slightly different charge for mole removal. The price is based upon the size, shape, location and complexity of the removal. For instance, a very small mole in an area that is not cosmetically sensitive can be removed simply and without sutures whereas a mole that is larger and deeper will require more work such as layered closure with sutures.
A topical application of liquid iodine may help remove skin tags. It works by breaking down skin cells, so it is extremely important that you only apply to the skin tag and avoid the healthy surrounding skin. To be safe, carefully apply coconut oil to a one-half inch area around the skin tag to create a barrier. Then apply a couple of drops of iodine with a sterile cotton swab. Repeat twice each day until the skin tag falls off.
During the one month using this oil, at times I had my doubts. I was using it for a new small round mole near my smile line. I had mild inflammation up to the size of a quarter surrounding the target area. That area peeled constantly, even though I was careful to keep the oil off of it. I had very minor bleeding around 2 1/2 weeks, after washing my face one time, and so the mole then had a scab appearance. Finally at one month it departed. I have a very faint, slightly brown circle at the site, with no pitting or scarring. I would use it again. I liked what I learned about this company, which is why I gave it a try. * - Sharon
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.
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.
More than half if not all of the general population has been reported to have skin tags at some time in their lives. Although tags are generally acquired (not present at birth) and may occur in anyone, more often they arise in adulthood. They are much more common in middle age, and they tend to increase in prevalence up to age 60. Children and toddlers may also develop skin tags, particularly in the underarm and neck areas. Skin tags are more common in overweight people.
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.
Doctors remove many moles every day, but there is always one recurring theme that dermatologists tell people: Be aware of your body and any moles that have changed over time. This is especially true for moles that are dark or flat. Invariably, people will see doctors and be extremely concerned about raised, lightly colored moles, but they are not concerned about the dark, black melanoma (skin cancer) next to the mole. This is truly important.
How should anal skin tags be removed? A skin tag is a noncancerous growth of excess skin. Anal skin tags are typically small and may go unnoticed but can sometimes cause embarrassment or discomfort. We explore whether at-home removal techniques are safe for skin tags located around the anus. Also, learn about the risks and when to contact a doctor. Read now