It’s not quite a mole, pretty sure it’s not a wart. What on earth are those fleshy little bumps hanging off your skin? Allow us to introduce you to your skin tags. Don’t freak out - they are completely harmless. Just more of an annoyance than anything. And while there’s no need to rush off and get them removed (we repeat, they are not a medical emergency), we get that you’d rather not have them in your life. In which case, this is what you can do - and everything else you need to know about these weird and not-so-wonderful things called skin tags.
Skin tags are thought to occur from skin rubbing up against skin, since they are so often found in skin creases and folds. Studies have shown existence of low-risk HPV 6 and 11 in skin tags, hinting at a possible role in its pathogenesis. Acrochorda have been reported to have a prevalence of 46% in the general population. A causal genetic component is thought to exist. They also are more common in women than in men. Acrochorda were once thought to be associated with colorectal polyps, but studies have shown no such connection exists. Rarely, they can be associated with the Birt–Hogg–Dubé syndrome, acromegaly, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
A mole is a skin abnormality that develops when skin grows in a cluster instead of spreading out. These are usually dark, small patches of skin no larger than the size of an eraser head. Although they are most often harmless, some moles can develop into melanoma skin cancer. If you are concerned about a mole that may be cancerous, please refer to our skin cancer treatment page.
Skin tags are common, acquired benign skin growths that resemble a small, soft balloon suspended on a slender stalk. Skin tags are harmless growths that can vary in number from one to hundreds. Males and females are equally prone to developing skin tags. Obesity seems to be associated with skin tag development. Although some skin tags may fall off spontaneously, most persist once formed. The medical name for skin tag is acrochordon. Some people call them "skin tabs."
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.
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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.
Use tea tree oil. Tea tree oil may be helpful for certain skin conditions, such as acne, fungal infections, and bug bites, so you can try it on your mole if you like. Brush tea tree oil on the mole twice daily using a q-tip. At night, you can also soak a cotton ball in tea tree oil and secure it over the mole with a Band-Aid. Repeat this method for a month, or however long it takes the mole to go away. However, keep in mind that applying tea tree oil to your skin daily may cause it to burn. Stop if skin irritation occurs.
And I was getting them exactly where I was expected to. Michele Farber, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, says they can happen anywhere, but “they are normally on the neck, underarms, [and] underneath the breasts and the groin folds.” Cynthia Abbott, MD, who works with Dermatology Affiliates in Marietta, Georgia, says that while “skin tags are an outgrowth of skin most commonly occurring due to constant rubbing and irritation,” that they “can form anywhere, but the waistline, underarms, groin, neck, and other areas of friction with necklaces and clothes are the most common locations.”
Abnormal or unsightly moles can generally be excised in a brief and straightforward outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia by Dr. Rapaport. Dr. Rapaport has vast experience in skin cancer treatment, particularly in the treatment of malignant melanoma. Dr. Rapaport’s experience and expertise in skin cancer treatment makes him an ideal specialist for the identification and treatment of both “normal” non-cancerous moles and “abnormal” pre-cancerous moles. Along with his knowledge of skin cancer treatment, Dr. Rapaport’s aptitude for cosmetic surgery enables him to minimize the potential of an unsightly scar formation during the mole removal.
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.
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.
The internet, of course, is full of interesting suggestions, including tying the stalk of a skin tag with dental floss or thread in an attempt to strangulate it and make it fall off. This, too, is a recipe for traumatizing your skin. Don't fall for sites hocking skin tag removal products. The right way to remove a skin tag is at the dermatologist's office. If you've been Googling "how to remove skin tags at home," you might as well stop.
Castor oil has been a medicine cabinet staple for generations, much like baking soda. Together, they may help to safely get rid of a bothersome skin tag. Mix two parts castor oil with one part baking soda and rub it gently over the skin tag. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, or banana or papaya peel, and secure with a bandage. Leave on overnight and rinse off in the morning. Repeat nightly until the skin tag falls off.
As mentioned above, skin tags have their own blood supply, and you should not attempt to cut, burn, tie, or freeze skin tags at home. And, please, do not apply duct tape to your skin. The risk of infection and scarring with these types of removal tactics is high. Take the time to learn how to remove skin tags safely with the natural treatments suggested below.
And speaking of cancer, it’s generally not something you need to worry about with regular old skin tags. Dr. Farber says that, “If anything changes quickly, is unusually painful, or concerns you, it’s worth getting it examined to confirm it’s a benign skin tag …. Skin tags tend to grow very slowly. Any growth that changes quickly is a reason to get examined by a dermatologist.”