These small (often) flesh-colored benign growths can develop anywhere on the face or body. And both men and women (of all ethnicities) are vulnerable to the condition. You may not even be aware that you have skin tags. The problems begin when they’re easy to see, form in a cluster or they grow in size. They can also become irritated, infected or blood-filled.
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.
You shouldn’t experience any severe pain as the area heals, but you might deal with soreness or itching, Dr. Conrad says. Regardless of the type of mole removal you had, your doctor should instruct you on how to keep the area as clean and soothed as possible. For patients without stitches, Dr. Goldenberg recommends running a mixture of water and gentle soap over the wound at least once a day, gently patting it dry, then applying a thick ointment like petroleum jelly or an anti-bacterial cream before putting on a fresh adhesive bandage.
If you want to try it I don’t think it’ll probably harm the skin tags, however. The worst that can happen is you’ll probably get a little red or itchy and inflamed there. So, while I don’t think it’s going to hurt, I don’t think it’s going to help," says Geraghty. She added that you could cause skin irritation and redness with these treatments, without getting results or getting rid of the skin tag.
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.
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)
Some common skin tag look-alikes include benign lesions such as seborrheic keratoses, common moles, warts, neurofibromas, and a fatty mole called nevus lipomatosus. While extremely rare, there are a few reports of skin cancers found in skin tags. Skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma may rarely mimic skin tags, as described above.
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.”
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.