While the majority of skin tags are simply destroyed, sometimes tissue is sent for microscopic exam by a health care specialist known as a pathologist, who will determine the exact diagnosis and determine whether an abnormality such as skin cancer is present. Irregular skin growths that are larger, bleed, or have an unusual presentation may require pathology examination to make sure there are no irregular cells or skin cancers.
Simply soak a sterile cotton ball with apple cider vinegar and secure it in place over the skin tag with a bandage for 20 minutes. Remove and check for any irritation on the skin. If no irritation is evident, you will want to do the 20-minute treatment during the day and then before bed. Apply the soaked cotton ball and secure it, and leave it on overnight.
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.
Mole removal typically takes place in under an hour using a local anesthesia. Larger moles that are excised will require sutures. This treated area may feel a little discomfort, which typically goes away within a few days after the procedure. The skin will scab over and will completely heal within 2-3 weeks with proper application of topical medications.
Other skin conditions such as warts and moles can resemble skin tags. Since some moles may be cancerous, it’s best to have your skin tags examined by a doctor. Your dermatologist or family doctor will be able to diagnose skin tags. They’ll likely do this through a visual exam. If they have any doubt about the diagnosis, they may also perform a biopsy.
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While it is true that skin tags often show up in the armpit or neck creases, the skin-on-skin friction is not what’s to blame. Rather, it’s the creases and skin folds that produce a friendly environment for a virus that may cause some skin tags. According to Ben Johnson, MD, founder of holistic beauty brand Osmosis Skincare, “Viruses are much more commonly spread through contact than people realize, but they don’t find the skin an easy place to survive. Creases improve their chances, and on rare occasions, one makes it into the follicle and infects local skin DNA to create skin tags.”
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
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.
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First, the good news: Skin tags are benign and cause no symptoms. These harmless growths of skin can be right on the skin surface or seem to sprout from a thin stalk of skin and hang off the body. Also called cutaneous tags, soft fibromas, acrochordons, and fibroepithelial polyps, skin tags are mostly flesh-colored growths, although some may be darker in color.
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.
Generally, they do not cause any pain or discomfort. However, if they are subjected to friction or damage caused by clothing or jewelry, a small blood clot may occur, resulting in pain. While it may be tempting at that point to simply cut it off, this is not an acceptable way to remove a skin tag. The best practices for how to remove skin tags at home do not involve cutting; this is dangerous and may lead to a severe infection and permanent scarring.
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
While the presence of skin tags can be unsightly and annoying there really aren’t that many reasons to remove them. If they are in locations where they get stuck in clothing or zippers you may want to have them taken off to avoid pain and bleeding. You may also want to have skin tags near the eyes removed. “Some skin tags can become very large and cause problems with vision,” said Sorensen.
But skin tags are generally benign, so I’ll probably just live with it. The same way I live with the ones on my genitals — a story I can now look back on and laugh at. Skin tags. I thought I’d contracted some disease as yet unknown to science, but really, I had skin tags. No wonder that poor ob-gyn almost laughed me out of the stirrups. Because if there’s one things that’s true, it’s that about half of us have skin tags — whether you can see them or not.
Susan Besser, MD, a family medicine specialist with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, says that if skin tags “get large, change color, or become infected or ulcerated, you need to see your doctor. In those cases, it may not be a simple skin tag and further evaluation is needed.” By and large, Todd Minars, MD, of MINARS Dermatology in Hollywood, Florida, states, “Skin tags are harmless. If they do not bother you, then there is no need to treat them.”