There are currently five conventional skin tag treatments used by dermatologists, depending on the size, location and condition of the skin. Discuss all options thoroughly with your health care provider to determine how to get rid of skin tags that are causing you distress. Remember, as they are generally not considered a medical condition, chances are your health insurance will not cover the removal options listed here. You likely will be required to pay out-of-pocket for these procedures.
Skin tags, medically termed as acrochordons or fibroepithelial polyps (FEP), are just a tiny benign bit of flesh that is typically connected to the underlying skin by a thin stalk. Yeah, gross. On the exterior, they look like minuscule bits of “hanging” skin that are typically taller than wide. These growths are seen in approximately half of all people and can form for a variety of reasons. However, they turn up more often during pregnancy, in diabetics, obese individuals, and those that have a family history of skin tags. They are also more common as you age—and men and women suffer them at about the same rate.
Many people who develop skin tags simply choose to leave them alone. If, however, you find a skin tag unsightly or find that it’s becoming irritated by shaving or rubbing on clothing or jewelry, you can have it removed by a doctor. The two most common methods are cryotherapy, in which the tag is taken off using a freezing solution, or cauterization, in which the tag is burned off. There are also home kits available (similar to wart removal kits), but they may only be appropriate for certain small tags. Consult your healthcare provider for advice, especially if the tag is large (in which case a biopsy may be taken), or it is near your eye.
I never knew what skin tags were until about 10 years ago. They’re annoying more than anything, but I know some people who are very concerned when they have them (even if they’ve gone to the doctor and been cleared). Good to see there are a number of home remedies. Not surprised to see apple cider vinegar listed as a possible solution. If ever nature produced a universal elixir, that would be it.
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)
Like moles, removal of skin tags poses a threat of exacerbation of the tumorous site. Though rare, it is possible to develop a malignant tumor by removal. If removal is desired or warranted, it can be achieved using a home treatment kit eg Skin Tag Zap™, dermatologist, general practitioner or similarly trained professional who may use cauterisation, cryosurgery, excision, laser, or surgical ligation to remove the acrochorda.
Skin cancers occur when skin cells undergo malignant transformations and grow into tumors. The most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are highly curable when they are diagnosed and treated early. Sun exposure, tanning beds, depressed immune system, radiation exposure, and certain viral infections are risk factors for skin cancer. Skin cancers are treated with surgery or radiation. The prognosis of nonmelanoma skin cancers is generally very good.
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.
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."
Don't ignore a mole that's changing. If you don't like the prospect of having surgery, you might be tempted to let your mole be and forget about it. That's usually fine, unless you notice that the mole has changed over time. A changing mole can be a sign of the presence of cancer cells, so you should have any mole checked out by your doctor. Use the ABCDE guide to examine your mole. If you notice the following, be sure to make an appointment with a doctor:
The best method for mole removal depends on different characteristics of the mole including size, shape, and color. With most moles (pigmented areas) we are either born with them, or they appear over time as we exose our skin to the sun. For flat moles, skin tags, or protruding moles that have been relatively stable since birth (with no rapid growing, shape changing, etc.) treatment with laser or excision can remove them easily. Other moles that have changed in color or contour should be removed for biopsy to determine if they are associated with skin cancer.
Moles, medically known as nevi (nevus, in singular), are benign conditions of the skin that can be raised or flat, pigmented or flesh colored. Mole removals should only be undertaken after considerable deliberation and thought. Since they oftentimes occur in highly conspicuous areas like the central face, the recovery following a mole removal may be several months before they are not immediately obvious to an observer that you had surgery. Mole removal techniques are graduated and adjusted depending on the type of mole, location of mole, and how unsightly it is aesthetically. Dr. Lam believes that excellent mole removal is predicated not only on superior surgery but also on meticulous and frequent follow-up care to ensure the incision heals well.
Your mole removal treatment will depend on the technique used for removal. However, it may take a few weeks to notice the full results from treatment. If your mole is being removed by excision, we will use a topical anesthetic to minimize discomfort during your treatment. You may also have some discomfort, swelling, and scarring following your treatment.
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.
Michelle Nguyen, a dermatologist and the director of Mohs micrographic surgery at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, tells Allure that what we call skin tags are really just benign skin lesions composed of normal skin tissue. New York City dermatologist Joshua Zeichner adds that skin tags, comprised of extra skin and fat, can happen to anyone. There is, however, a genetic component to them, and people whose parents had them are more likely to get them themselves.
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There is no evidence that removing a skin tag will cause more tags to grow. There is no expectation of causing skin tags to "seed" or spread by removing them. In reality, some people are simply more prone to developing skin tags and may have new growths periodically. Some individuals request periodic removal of tags at annual or even quarterly intervals.
And here’s an interesting tidbit to know: “In typical practice, every single mole that is removed is also examined under the microscope, so often we may use the terms ‘mole removal’ and ‘biopsy’ interchangeably,” Jules Lipoff, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “Even if a patient is having a mole removed ostensibly for cosmetic reasons, it is prudent to evaluate the pathology regardless,” he explains. “We wouldn’t want to miss something.”
Skin tags are usually harmless, so treatment isn’t necessary unless the lesion causes irritation. Although home remedies and over-the-counter products are effective, inexpensive solutions, see a doctor if a skin tag doesn't respond to home treatment, bleeds, or continues to grow. Several procedures can successfully remove a skin tag with minimal pain and scarring.
According to Live Science, a skin tag is basically just a skin growth that can be smooth or irregular. It may attach to the skin by a stalk. But Katy Burris, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University and board-certified dermatologist practicing at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, puts it simply: “A skin tag is a soft growth of normal skin that appears like a small tag. They tend to appear in areas of high friction, where skin may rub clothing or other skin.”