SKIN TAGS (Acrochordons)
Skin tags are very common – most people have at least one or two. These flesh colored or brownish growths are called ‘acrochordons’. They are made up of skin tissue that has grown in an abnormal pattern so that it protrudes from the surrounding skin. This often occurs in areas where skin-on-skin or skin-on-clothing friction occurs. Many people notice these fleshy growths along their armpits or where tight clothing (such as an underwire bra) presses against the skin. Weight gain that increases the number of fatty folds in the skin is linked to a higher number of tags.
Are Acrochordons Something to Worry About?
Skin tags are not a health problem. They usually don’t cause discomfort unless they get nicked during shaving or rubbed excessively by clothing. However, you may find these tags unsightly – especially if they are large, numerous, or located on a readily visible area of your body or face. See a dermatologist right away if you have a skin tag that starts growing rapidly, is painful or bleeding, or has an abnormal color. This type of issue is rare but may indicate that the tag is actually a malignant skin tumor.
Acrochordons can be removed and do not grow back (although new, unrelated tags may form in other areas because of friction). Don’t try to remove an eyelid skin tag at home since you may accidentally injure your eye.
- A tag that protrudes on a thin “stalk” may be removed by tying a piece of dental floss around the base of the tag. The skin cells will die as the blood supply is terminated. The tag may wither and fall off after a few days. Make sure to keep the tag and surrounding skin very clean.
- A dermatologist can use a pair of sterilized, very sharp scissors to cut off a skin tag. This may be done with or without a local anesthetic depending on whether the tag has nerve endings in it. If the tag is small, no stitches will be required to close the wound. A little bleeding is normal with this approach.
- Freezing with liquid nitrogen is sometimes done on large skin tags or areas that have multiple tags.
- Cauterization (burning) is another potential skin tag removal method (it may leave a small scar).
If you tend to develop tags frequently, you may want to make an annual appointment with your dermatologist to have them all removed in one session.
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