What Are The Causes And Treatments Of Skin Tags

Skin Tags

Intro

A healthy, good-looking skin has a long road to go as the health of the skin is affected by numerous internal and external factors of our surroundings. The quality of the skin depends on the food and water quality, the air, as well as on the many bioprocesses of the body internally.

If imbalance ever occurs with some of these factors, certain skin conditions may appear, some less dangerous than others and one of those are the skin tags we are going to talk about and explain in this guide.

Before we continue on the topic of skin tags, you should know that they go by other names in the medical history, so if you encounter any of the names mentioned below, you shouldn’t be confused, as they all refer to skin tags.



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Other common names for skin tags:

Cutaneous papilloma, cutaneous tag, Templeton skin tags, an acrochordon, fibroma molluscum, fibroma pendulum, soft fibroma, and fibroepithelial polyp

Chapter 1

Understanding Skin Tags

Skin tags, in general, are nothing to be worried about. Except for their appearance, depending on the location spot where they occur, there is nothing dangerous health – wise about them.

Namely, skin tags are harmless growths on the skin that vary in number and launch from the surface of the skin holding onto a thick or thin skin stalk. They are visible but have no nerve endings, so by touching them, it feels like just another part of your skin. The body produces skin tags out of skin tissue composed of blood vessels and collagen which is a type of protein fiber.

If you have skin tags anywhere on the surface of your skin, the good news is that they are benign tumors of the skin, but don’t let this frighten you because they are completely noncancerous tags. The bad news is that they are there for a lifetime and once they appear they won’t go away on their own.

However, you can visit your doctor and ask for their removal methods of which we are going to talk about below.

 

Is a skin tag a tumor?

You shouldn’t worry about tumors and cancerous skin conditions if you are a person who’s prone to skin tags, as they are noncancerous (malignant) and don’t turn into cancerous tags if left untreated.

However, there are situations where a skin tag turns into a precancerous or cancerous tag.

This is rare but possible and you know it when you see your skin tags turning into tag-like bumps that grow further, change color into pink, red, brown, or black.

If this happens to you, you should know that you need a skin biopsy to know what you are dealing with and how to treat it.

 

When Should You Consider A Biopsy For Your Skin Tags?

While there are skin tags which are removed without examining them prior removal with a microscope or through a biopsy, there are certain uncommon and atypical skin growths that might resemble skin tags but should be sent to a pathologist for further examination to rule off and exclude any serious skin life-threatening conditions like cancers. These are usually skin bumps that changed color over time and/ or are bleeding and painful.

Types of skin growths that look like skin tags but are actually more dangerous and health-harming are certain benign lesions such as neurofibromas, seborrheic keratoses, warts, common moles, and fat accumulating moles known as nevus lipomatosis.

Also, there are certain types of skin cancer that mimic skin tags and start off as one, but later on they change into other forms, colors, and sizes.

Those include basal cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. In children, skin tags must be examined further because they are unlikely to appear. This is why they might represent something called nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome which is a genetic condition evolving into skin cancer.

 

Accidentally Cutting Off Skin Tags – Should You Worry?

The quick answer is no. People unintentionally shave off or cut skin tags all the time without them knowing. This happens by razors or wax when shaving their legs, arms or armpits.

So, no harm was done there, except for a minor bleeding that usually stops within 5 to 10 minutes. You only need to cover it with a bandage and apply pressure in the first few minutes for it to stop bleeding. It is very rare for a skin infection to occur by shaving off your skin tags, but if you are concerned, then you should apply antibacterial soap or cream for a day or two.

 

Color Changes In Skin Tags – Should You Worry?

As we said, skin tags that change colors must be examined in order to see if skin cancers are developing or not.

However, skin tag colorations may be due to insufficient blood supply coming to them. This is called a thrombosed or clotted skin tag which turns black, purple and/ or irritated over time, and it is expected to fall off on its own in three to ten days after changing colors without any additional treatments.

 

How To Distinguish Skin Tags From Other Skin Conditions?

Before you run into the nearest pharmacy asking for a home remedy or to your doctor’s office for a removal treatment, you need to know what you are dealing with. The reason why distinguishing certain skin conditions is important is that they all look-alike but are quite different when it comes to causes and treating them.

This being said, you need to know whether you have skin tags, warts or moles. When you have a skin tag, it will appear on a pedestal-like base with a round ball on top hanging from the skin on a stalk. They are most likely to appear in places of the skin where the skin folds or creases.

The color of the skin tags is skin-like or a little bit darker and they can appear anywhere on your body. Skin tags are small – sized, almost like a pinhead, but are known to grow up to a grape-sized growth, however not in all cases.

Do not confuse skin tags for warts, because warts are flat on top, they don’t have a stalk and are not hanging from the skin-base and medically speaking, they go much deeper into the surface of the skin, thus the treatments differ from those of the skin tags. Moles, on the other hand, are the third most common skin condition and are probably the most different from all three.

Namely for a mole to form it takes much longer than for a skin tag, and they start off very small, growing as the person grows older over time. When it comes to moles, they are more likely to grow into a skin cancer than any of the three skin conditions.

However, this is not so easy because of their pigment that they contain, so it shouldn’t be something you worry about too much. If you want to see whether you have a mole or a skin tag, look for pigmentation and hair, as moles have them both and warts and skin tags don’t have either of them.

 

 A Skin Tag Under A Microscope

There are situations where a closer look is needed of your skin tag tissue. This can occur when your doctor believes there might be another condition underlying in the appearance of your skin tags.

This is when they will put your skin tissue up for preparation in the laboratory so they can examine it under a microscope. This is when your skin will be stained with an H&E stain or a hematoxylin and eosin stain, to be more accurate. Under the microscope in the skin tag, there will be a purple colored outer layer which is the epidermis or the skin, overlying a pink core which is the flash or the dermis.

Now, what is recognizable about the skin tag is that the external layer of the skin or the epidermis is outgrown from the normal skin, a condition called hyperplasia, and goes around the underlying layer of the skin which has collagen fibers that have loosened and have swollen abnormally to the extent that now they are hanging by a thread. It is also typical in a skin tag not to contain any hairs, pigments or any other cell structures as a normal skin piece would contain.

Even though 80% of the skin tags are removed by treatments mentioned below, and without doctors putting too much effort into them, sometimes the tissue shows abnormal signs of growth or complications like large size or bleeding. This is when doctors will send a tissue of the skin tag to a healthcare specialist for a further exam under a microscope. The specialist will diagnose the skin tag precisely and determine whether complications like skin cancer can occur or not.

Also, with a help of microscopic examination, other skin condition can be revealed, that mimic skin tags but are more serious and more dangerous than skin tags. These are conditions like moles and warts, cysts, milia, neurofibromas, seborrheic keratoses, and nevus lipomatosis.

It is rare, but still possible for skin cancers like malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and/ or basal cell carcinoma to mimic skin tags and appear as they are harmless until they develop further.

Chapter 2

Causes Of Skin Tags

Now that you know how to recognize a skin tag from other common skin conditions we are moving onto the causes of the tags.

Although there have been numerous studies and researches of why they appear, the cause is still somewhat unclear and confusing because rules that apply to some people, do not apply for other.

Namely, it is known that skin tags appear after midlife in men and women equally. As they mostly appear on places that fold or crease, experts believe that rubbing certain areas of skin for a repetitive time with a collar or clothing, or from skin rubbing against skin – under the arms or between the thighs – provokes the appearance of these skin growths.

 

When a place has been repeatedly rubbed, the skin tag starts off as a small bump growing into a larger gland in the skin. The reason for their growth is the repeated rubbing off of clothes or skin and it has a snowball effect. While it’s small it gets rubbed further and further until it develops the stalk from all the skin cells that get pulled and is now hanging by a thread.

So if you don’t want to end up with a ball of skin hanging from a thin pedestal, you need to be aware of rubbing it and protect the skin tag against it as much as you can.

Although we said skin tags are harmless as far as skin – health goes, having them can be a problem solely because of the skin irritation they cause.

Namely, skin tags are known to bleed when they get snagged and pulled so this can be a rather painful experience no matter when they are located. So this is why many people cannot stand having them, and as soon as skin tags appear, they have them removed by a dermatologist.

Many people tend to think and fear that skin tags are contagious, where in fact they are everything but contagious. Researchers so far haven’t found any case indicating that common skin tags are transmissible by skin contact or anyhow. They are strictly grown due to internal causes or external rubbing of the area. So, if you experience a sudden outburst or cluster of growths anywhere on your skin (especially in the genital area) you are probably facing with warts, as they are contagious and not skin tags.

Chapter 3

Skin Tags: Symptoms

Besides the visibility and ugly appearance of the skin tags.

People who have them don’t develop other symptoms due to having skin tags.

They represent more of a superficial irritation of the skin than they are a health risk.

Few symptoms of the skin tags are shown gradually those are will be discussed and we already discussed it.

This is because skin tags mostly consist of the collagen protein and skin tissue with no nerve endings,

so you cannot really feel them on your body.

However, bleeding and tearing of skin tags can occur due to carelessness and insufficient attention,

and this can be a painful experience solely because the stalks of the skin tags have nerves on the base of the skin.

This is why people decide to remove them once and for all.

Chapter 4

Whom Suffer For Skin Tags

Skin tags aren’t present in babies and small children. They progress with age instead. As we previously mentioned, skin tags occur equally often in men and women so their appearance isn’t gender based.

However,

what is certain is that they are more present in obese and overweight people than in people with a normal weight for several reasons:

  • First, obese and overweight people have a lot of excess skin that rubs against other skin parts, thus provokes the occurrence of skin tags;
  • Pregnant women due to changes and imbalances in hormones can develop skin tags especially in the second trimester of the pregnancy;
  • People who have developed a certain type of the human papillomavirus (HPV);
  • Diabetics with imbalances with their insulin hormone due to the resistance to it – Skin tags are associated with hyperinsulinemia which is a condition in the body when too much insulin circulates in the blood;
  • Genetics – it’s quite often for skin tags to appear in people due to no other reason but genetically inherited – so if you have skin tags and you aren’t pregnant, diabetic or obese, then in your case, it might be the genes that play a role in the appearance and development;
  • People suffering from Crohn’s disease usually develop skin tags around their anal opening which are also known as perianal skin tags;
  • People who have a skin condition known as the Acanthosis Nigricans skin condition;
  • Skin tags appear in people who have an imbalance with their sex – steroid levels, more specifically when they are experiencing changes in their levels of estrogen and progesterone;
  • When dyslipidemia occurs, for example, in people with high cholesterol levels;
  • When people suffer from hypertension, or more commonly known as high blood pressure;
  • People with Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome;
  • In women and girls diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome;

 

In isolated spots with just one or two other, then they might not cause any more discomfort.

This being said, as these are the most common places with a high-friction occurrence in people, they are also the most common places you can expect to find your skin tags, but not necessarily:

  • The neck area
  • The groin area and surrounding places
  • On the eyelids
  • On the armpits
  • On the upper stomach area
  • On the breasts – the bra area
  • On the legs
  • In the inner thigh area
  • Behind the knees
  • The axillae area

Chapter 5

Skin Tags Developing Area In Body

While they can appear virtually anywhere on the skin, these millimeter-sized bumps are most likely to appear on folding spots on the body.

where the skin is rubbed the most. They develop without you noticing them because of their small size in the beginning.

However, if they grow in a group with many other skin tags, then you might notice them as they will be visibly more apparent.

However, if they grow.

Can Skin Tags Appear In The Vaginal Area?

Normally, common skin tags do not appear in the vagina or the area of it which is moist and with mucosal surfaces.

However, there are other types of benign polyps that occur in those places like irritated polyps or soft fibromas which can be found on the mouth of the vagina and the anal skin.

When it comes to skin tags, they mostly appear on the dry skin areas such as the neck, armpits, and groin folds.

If you think you have skin tags on your genital area, you should visit a doctor because you might have the sexually transmitted Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which makes warts grow in these particular places.

Also, while it is still possible for skin tags to occur infrequently on the labia majora and labia minora as places of the external genitalia, you should get checked up by a medical person to rule out any dangerous sexually transmitted infections like genital warts. This can be easily done by a lab tissue biopsy of growths in this area.

 

Can Skin Tags Appear In The Penis And Scrotum Area?

As we previously said for skin tags in the genital area, before you jump to any conclusions, you need to have your skin tested for the human papillomavirus or other sexually transmitted infections before you get treated for skin tags.

This being said, you should know that it is completely possible for skin tags to occur at unusual places like the scrotum, penis, and at the opening of the penis tip as those aren’t so moist as the vaginal area.

Chapter 6

For Whom Skin Tags Removal Treatment

First, we are going to be speaking of medical removals of skin tags as the safest and most common way of getting rid of those annoying skin bumps that occur anywhere on anyone.

Namely, modern medicine over the years has developed four very painless, fast and efficient ways of skin tag removing methods that are done with a single visit to the doctor’s office in matters of minutes.

After any of these procedures, you walk away with a single bandage over the spot where the skin tag was removed. The bandages are to be removed in the next couple of days and the patient can continue with their daily chores right away.

 

When it comes to minor skin tags, the doctor might not use any anesthesia or with the bigger ones, he or she might apply a local one where he or she will inject Lidocaine prior to removal. Doctors also use topical creams as anesthesia like Betacaine cream or LMX 5% cream where groups or multiple skin tags have accumulated.

Skin Tags Removal

No matter what method you pick to remove your skin tags, the procedure might be slightly painful and hurt a little, but it is not something permanent and it usually passes within minutes after the procedure.

To help with the pain, your doctor will use an anesthetic, local not big one, before the procedure begins. If he or she was removing a large-sized skin tag from your skin then it may cause some bleeding that they will try to stop by giving you or applying a medicine that helps stop the bleeding momentarily.

After the procedure is done, the doctor will cover the spot with a bandage on it which you can remove in the next couple of days. It’s important and relieving to know that these types of procedures leave no scarring or marks afterward. It all passes within a week more or less.

 

Who Should Remove Your Skin Tags?

As we said, it is highly recommended you consult with a professional general practitioner when it comes to skin tag removal.

Other than doctors, family physicians, internal medicine physicians, specialized professionals in dermatology, skin doctors or similarly trained medical professionals who are privately practising skin care are able to remove and treat your skin tags.

Also, it is noteworthy to mention that when it comes to eyelid skin tags, we recommend consulting with an ophthalmologist, or specialist eye doctor, because they can be especially tricky since they are on a sensitive spot that should not be carelessly tampered with.

This goes especially for those skin tags that are close to the eyelid margin because they can cause severe and serious damage to the eyes by burning or freezing off the skin tags.

 

Removing Skin Tags At A Barbering Or A Cosmetology Establishments

It is impossible (and shouldn’t be done!) for the skin tags to be removed by someone who works in an establishment licensed by the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.

This is something you should not accept to be done on you, even if someone suggests it to you because the removal of skin tags and moles is a method considered as medical and invasive, and can cause potential problems and permanent scarrings if not done right.

 

Post-Treatment

If a good care is taken by the medical practitioner in the procedure of the removal of the skin tags, then the risk of post-operational problems is decreased to a very low chance of getting anything bad, thus you are able to avoid any post-treatment discomfort or bleeding.

In order to have your post-treatment process as painless as possible, your doctor will examine your skin tags and recommend the best option for your tags of how they should be effectively removed. He or she will also give advice on how to look after the area from which the skin tag was removed.

You will see that for minor skin tags you will be prescribed with some kind of an antibacterial cream after your treatment just to apply on the treated spot in order not to catch any infections, and for the larger skin tags, after they are removed they might require a little bit more care, but still nothing you can’t-do at home.

When it comes to recovery time, it is not needed because the treatment leaves no traces or marks of the tags and if done right, it won’t leave any scarrings as well.

However, you should know that it is highly possible for other skin tags to appear, maybe not in the same spot but in other places for sure. This is because if they appeared once, you might be prone to skin tags thus your skin will continue producing them as a result.

 

Skin Tag Home Remedies

Although it is recommended to speak with a skin professional of any kind like a medical practitioner, a dermatologist or your doctor, you can treat skin tags on your own in your home. The treatment requires tying off the stalk from which the skin bump hangs and waiting for it to change color – usually to purple or black – and to fall off within three to ten days. This can be done with a piece of thread or dental floss.

Another thing proven to be effective is taking meds of chromium picolinate.

Namely, certain people took 200mg of these pills twice a day and reported that their skin tags disappeared completely after a while. This might be due to the positive impact on insulin resistance these pills have – insulin resistance in diabetics is one of the main causes of skin tags as we mentioned above.

Usually, results come after three months of usage of the mineral chromium. We advise consulting with a medical practitioner whether you should or shouldn’t take something like this because chromium impacts blood glucose (sugar) and insulin sensitivity.

You should specifically consult with your doctor if you are already taking some insulin or antidiabetic drugs.

 

Over-the-counter solutions for skin tags:

People usually reach for over-the-counter (OTC) solutions which are freely available at pharmacies and well-supplied stores and markets when it comes to treating skin tags at home.

Some of them are known to freeze the skin tags and make them fall off in a week to ten days and are similar to those products used for removing of warts.

 

Are creams effective for the removal of skin tags?

Even though medicine progressed and there are many treatments, pills, and cures for many illnesses and conditions, still on the market there aren’t any medically approved creams that are proven to remove skin tags.

This is why it is recommended not to experiment and spend your money on inefficient products that only may cause irritation, skin discolorations and secondary complications of such kind.


Cutting off, burning, freezing or tying off are still considered the best methods for skin tag removal over trial uses of products like wart removers, toothpaste, Dermasil, tea tree oil, hair-removal creams like Nair or Neet, or apple cider vinegar of any kind.

Chapter 7

Avoid Skin Tags: Naturally

While losing weight will for sure improve your overall health condition, it may reduce or stop the appearance of skin tags altogether. A quicker solution though might be to stop wearing tight clothes in areas where you mostly get skin tags.

In a study done by Spanish doctors, obese women were asked to repeatedly lift their arms as the medical paper reports.

By doing so, they developed a line of multiple skin tags where the clothes were tightest like the bra area for instance.

As this was due to repeated friction, it is recommended to avoid wearing pieces of clothes that aren’t loose enough for you to move freely, and your skin to breathe normally.

Overall, Long-Term Prognosis Of Skin Tags After Treatment:

Cor different spots on your body. This is because they appear from the inside and no doctor can establish the exact cause of skin tags in you.

So if you suffer from any illnesses or conditions as the ones mentioned above, or you are just genetically predispositioned to have skin tags on your body, the only thing left for you to do is to either remove them periodically, (at an annual or quarterly intervals) at all times or to just leave them be in case they are covered or don’t cause you any appearance discomforting feelings.

Chapter 8

Skin Tags: Treatment And Therapy

Skin Tags Removal Treatments

First, we are going to be speaking of medical removals of skin tags as the safest and most common way of getting rid of those annoying skin bumps that occur anywhere on anyone.

Namely, modern medicine over the years has developed four very painless, fast and efficient ways of skin tag removing methods that are done with a single visit to the doctor’s office in matters of minutes.

After any of these procedures, you walk away with a single bandage over the spot where the skin tag was removed. The bandages are to be removed in the next couple of days and the patient can continue with their daily chores right away.

When it comes to minor skin tags, the doctor might not use any anesthesia or with the bigger ones, he or she might apply a local one where he or she will inject Lidocaine prior to removal. Doctors also use topical creams as anesthesia like Betacaine cream or LMX 5% cream where groups or multiple skin tags have accumulated.

Excision

By performing an excision, the skin tags get cut out with a sterile scalpel or surgical scissors, so no other infections appear on the spot. There are skin tags that allow being ‘shaved’ off from the skin, while there are others who go deeper into the layers of the skin. For the later ones, the doctor is required to make a deeper cut in order to remove the entire growth and its cells in order to prevent it from growing back up.

This procedure might require few stitches, but it’s no big deal and after the removal of the stitches, you walk away like nothing happened. The good side of this method is that it removes the skin tag immediately, bringing instant results.

The downside, on the other hand, is the minor bleeding that occurs after the cutting of the skin tag.

 

Cryosurgery

Another skin tag removal method is by freezing them off with a probe containing liquid nitrogen. The doctor will freeze the skin tag by swabbing or spraying small quantities of extra-cold liquid nitrogen on the spot where the skin tag appeared. This method will probably leave you with a tiny blister on the spot where the skin tag used to be,

However, this usually heals on its own in few days time. The upside of this method is the absence of bleeding that occurs with the excision when cutting the skin tag, but the con of it is the appearance of skin discoloration, however, this proved to be only a temporary effect of it.

 

Cauterization

The method of cauterization will burn the skin tag down to its base along with the stalk until a smooth skin is reached. This method is done by electrolysis which creates an electric current to pass through a wire making it super hot and able to burn off the layers of the skin that are hanging by the thread.

What this does is burn the narrow stalk that makes the skin tags attached to the skin. This way doctors are able to prevent any excessive bleeding from the skin tags.

By using this method to remove skin tags or moles, you might need more than one treatment because it doesn’t create an immediate effect. The pro to this method is that no bleeding is involved in the procedure,

however, the downside to it is that it might cause a temporary skin discoloration and a need to repeat treatments because of the failure for the tag to fall off the first (few) times.

 

Ligation

While this is probably the slowest method of skin tag removal, is may be the most inexpensive one that you can do to yourself at home.

The ligation is when you or your doctor ties a certain tie around the stalk of the skin tag that attaches the tag to the skin and interrupts the blood flow to the skin tag.

This makes the tag fall out on itself after a few days due to insufficient blood and oxygen flow to it.

No matter what method you pick to remove your skin tags, the procedure might be slightly painful and hurt a little, but it is not something permanent and it usually passes within minutes after the procedure.

 

To help with the pain, your doctor will use an anesthetic, local not big one, before the procedure begins. If he or she was removing a large-sized skin tag from your skin then it may cause some bleeding that they will try to stop by giving you or applying a medicine that helps stop the bleeding momentarily.

After the procedure is done, the doctor will cover the spot with a bandage on it which you can remove in the next couple of days.

It’s important and relieving to know that these types of procedures leave no scarring or marks afterwards. It all passes within a week more or less.

Chapter 9

Insurance Coverage of Skin Tag Treatments

While the rules can differ from country-to-country, most of the private health insurance companies.

As well as the governmental ones, consider skin tag removals to be cosmetic only,


therefore they do not offer coverage of it making it a self-paying treatment.

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