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.
While the unpredictability of skin tags might give off the impression that they’re uncontrollable, this isn’t entirely true. Laura Korb Ferris, MD, says that skin tags are more common in overweight or obese people, and are also associated with insulin resistance and diabetes. As such, maintaining a healthy weight may help reduce skin tag trouble. Basically, think of tags as a barometer of your health. If you live a poor lifestyle, eat a lot of saturated fats, consume too much sugar, and maintain an unhealthy BMI, your body could be alerting you there’s a problem.
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:
A skin tag, or acrochordon (pl. acrochorda), is a small benign tumor that forms primarily in areas where the skin forms creases (or rubs together), such as the neck, armpit and groin. They may also occur on the face, usually on the eyelids. Perianal skin tags can be associated with Crohn's disease. Acrochorda are generally harmless and painless and usually do not grow or change over time. Though tags up to a half-inch long have been seen, they are typically the size of a grain of rice. The surface of an acrochordon may be smooth or irregular in appearance and is often raised from the surface of the skin on a fleshy stalk called a peduncle. Microscopically, an acrochordon consists of a fibrovascular core, sometimes also with fat cells, covered by an unremarkable epidermis. However, tags may become irritated by shaving, clothing, jewellery or eczema.
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"If the skin tags are a little bigger or they have more of a thicker stalk at the bottom, then I like to just do a miniature injection of lidocaine to numb the skin and just snip them right off with some very sharp sterile scissors. It only takes a second to do," says Geraghty. "Even with that method I usually do a little bit of cautery after to burn the base because these skin tags have their own blood vessel supply. Burning the base also puts a little scab on it."
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I have them. You might have them, too. In fact, according to a study published in the journal Dermotologica — the only one that provides hard numbers on the subject — 46 percent of 750 randomly selected people studied had them. But I was in my early twenties, and I had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that over the course of several months, a few tiny bumps had appeared — on my genitals, mostly in the fold between my thigh and pubic area. From what I could tell, they were skin-colored. They were not moles. Clearly, I had a sexually transmitted disease (STD). I thought they were warts. I Googled, and then I dearly wished I hadn’t.