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.”
Your skin is the heaviest organ in the body and takes up about 16 percent of your total weight.1 It serves many purposes, such as protecting your internal organs from microbes and environmental heat, as well as regulating body temperature.2 But due to its size and breadth, there's a chance that growths can unexpectedly form. One common example found among adults is skin tags.
Cindy Crawford has a mole, and Marilyn Monroe had one. In the Renaissance era, they were thought of as beauty enhancers, but if a mole is unsightly or bothersome, it is worth having it removed. Madonna had a mole and didn’t like the way it looked, so she had it removed. Benign moles can be removed easily with minimal risk of scarring thanks to modern techniques.
A mole, known by the medical term nevus, is a brown or black growth that occurs on the skin when cells grow in a cluster, rather than spread out. Moles, which can appear anywhere on the skin’s surface, may be present at birth or develop later in life. Over time, some moles change, others disappear and still others remain the same. People with fair complexions, red or blond hair, and blue or green eyes are more apt to have moles.
Hormone elevations, such as those seen during pregnancy, may cause an increase in the formation of skin tags, as skin tags are more frequent in pregnant women. Tags are essentially harmless and do not have to be treated unless they are bothersome. Skin tags that are bothersome may be easily removed during or after pregnancy, typically by a dermatologist.
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.
The cause of acrochordons is unknown, however there are several theories. Irritation or friction to the skin, as occurs with skin rubbing on skin in body folds, may play a role in their formation. Acrochordons are found more commonly in people who are overweight or have diabetes. This may be due to body habitus (more skin folds), but some people think insulin resistance may somehow contribute to the development of these harmless tumors. A study of 49 patients with acrochordons showed that the human papilloma virus (HPV) was present in a high percentage of growths, suggesting the virus plays a role in development. It is also possible that acrochordons are genetic or simply due to normal aging and loss of elastic tissue. There is a genetic disorder called Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome that is characterized by numerous skin tags along with other skin and systemic findings.
At Florida Skin Center, we specialize in a number of techniques that enable patients to achieve safe, effective mole removal. First, we offer a skin biopsy. This removes cells or skin samples from the surface of the body, which are examined to provide additional information about your medical condition or to remove an unwanted or suspicious lesion. Topical anesthetic is applied to the area before the biopsy to minimalize any discomfort during the procedure. Finally, we also offer excision mole removal, which involves cutting the mole off of the skin. At Florida Skin Center, these procedures can be performed the same day as your appointment, for your convenience.
Skin tags have been linked to diabetes. "We know that diabetics are more prone to them. More research is needed to know exactly why that is scientifically, but there’s some correlation that we observed with diabetes," says Geraghty. Though doctors don't fully understand why, the body's resistance to insulin might have something to do with it. So, if you have diabetes, you may be at an increased risk of developing skin tags.
Which skin conditions occur during pregnancy? Some common skin conditions can affect women during pregnancy, including hyperpigmentation, stretch marks and skin tags. These may be due to physical or hormonal changes. Some will disappear after pregnancy, but others, such as stretch marks, may remain. Topical creams may help, but check with a doctor before use. Read now