Skin Tags – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Definition

A skin tag is also known as an achrochordon. It is a benign growth of skin that is connected to the body by a short stalk.

Skin tags develop in both men and women as they grow older. They are skin coloured or darker and range in size from 1mm to 5cm. Some are the same color as surrounding skin while others are darker than surrounding skin. In most cases, they are attached to the underlying skin by a small band of tissue called a stalk or peduncle.

Causes

Skin tags are very common. Generally it benign skin growths that occur most often after midlife. They are tiny skin protrusions, and may have a small narrow stalk connecting the skin bump to the surface of the skin. They are usually painless and do not grow or change, except for occasional irritation from rubbing by clothing or other friction. Their origin is unknown.

Symptoms

Skin tags can occur almost anywhere there is skin. However, favorite areas for tags are the eyelids, neck, armpits (axillae), upper chest, and groin.The only symptom is a growth on the skin. The growth (tag)is usually small, although some may be up to a half-inch long. Other characteristics are as follows:

  • Present on the neck, armpits, trunk, body folds, or other areas
  • May be have a narrow stalk
  • Usually skin-colored, occasionally darker
  • A skin tag is painless, although it can become irritated if it is rubbed a lot.

Treatment

Skin tags do not require treatment. However, a health professional can easily remove them if they are bothersome. They are usually removed by burning or cutting them off. It is now possible to remove skin tags at home, including on the eyelids, around the eyes, anywhere on the body and in the genital area.

Doctors can recognize skin tags easily by examining the skin. For skin tags with a characteristic appearance a biopsy is unnecessary. Surgery is also usually recommended to remove a skin lesion that shows any sign of turning cancerous, for example, a mole that has changed shape or colour. After these have been removed, a small sample of the removed tissue is sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope. This is called a biopsy.

The operation is usually performed using a local anaesthetic, in which case the area around your skin lesion will be numb but you will be awake. It can also be done under a general anaesthetic, which means that you will be asleep throughout the procedure and will feel no pain. The choice of anaesthetic will depend on the size and location of your lesion.

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