Skin tags are thought to be caused by collagen and blood vessels that bunch together and get caught inside thicker skin. As skin tags more commonly occur in skin creases or fold, it is believed they are mainly caused by skin rubbing against skin. However, no one knows for sure. Skin tags affect all people of any gender. However, some people are at a higher risk for developing skin tags. You may be more likely to develop skin tags if any of the following applies to you:
Soft, fleshy growths that hang from the skin are commonly referred to as skin tags. Acrochordons — as they are referred to within the medical community — are not cancerous. They are generally considered a cosmetic concern, not a medical issue. They rarely cause pain or discomfort. But many people find them unsightly and want to know how to remove skin tags. (1)
Acrochordons are harmless and do not require removal. Typical skin tags can be removed for comfort or cosmetic purposes either by scissor excision, electrocautery (burning), or cryosurgery (freezing). Skin tags with long, narrow stalks can become twisted, cutting off the blood supply and abruptly turning the tag dark brown or black. If a skin tag appears that it is changing or becomes painful, it should be examined by a dermatologist to exclude other, potentially harmful diagnoses.
Cauterization. Burning off a skin tag should never be attempted at home. This is a procedure that must be conducted by an experienced medical professional. Electrocauterization requires a special tool that is heated and then carefully applied to the skin tag; the skin tag may not come off immediately. It may fall off in the hours or days following the procedure.
Congenital nevi are moles that are present at birth. Congenital nevi occur in about one in 100 people. These moles are slightly more likely to develop into melanoma (cancer) than are moles that appear after birth. A mole or freckle should be checked if it has a diameter of more than a pencil eraser or any characteristics of the ABCDEs of melanoma (see below).
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.
There are a few ways that moles may be removed to create a more attractive appearance. When the growth is superficial and raised, we may perform a shave excision. Comfort is a priority, and we achieve this with the use of local anesthetic before mole removal procedures. The shave technique involves a transverse incision that “shaves” the growth from the skin's surface. In many cases, this results in healing into a barely perceptible scar.
Moles are pigmented skin growths, also called nevi, that can appear anywhere on the body singly or in groups. Almost all adults have at least a few and some may have up to 40. Normally appearing as a dark brown spot, a mole may also be blue, black, pink or flesh-colored or may be raised and highly visible. Some may change over time or even gradually disappear. Whatever their color or shape, most moles are harmless and cause no symptoms other than discomfort when they rub against something.
"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."
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 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.
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.”