Skin tags, medically known as acrochordons, are small and benign skin growths that most often develop in areas of the skin that form creases like the eyelids, armpit, upper chest, neck, and groin. They are usually flesh-colored and hang from the surface of the skin on a tissue called a peduncle.
They are made of collagen fibers, skin cells, and blood vessels which are typically small in sizes that range from 2-5 mm in diameter. However, some grow as big as 5 cm which is the size of a fig.
Skin tags are very common but are neither harmful nor contagious. Both men and women can develop these equally, though they typically appear as people age. It is said that a majority or, if not, all of the general public has reported having acquired skin tags once in their lives.
How to Know if You Have Skin Tags?
Most of the time, skin tags are confused with warts. Healthcare providers can easily identify which is which just by physically checking on it. Nevertheless, differentiating a skin tag from a wart is rather simple.
Skin tags are soft and colorless flap of skin which are pedunculated and may look like a hanging grain of rice. Whereas, warts are a broad-based patch of thick skin and are rough in texture. It may look like a small cauliflower.
Skin tags remain on the surface of the skin while warts penetrate on a deeper level. Both skin tags and warts don’t have any hair growing on them.
It is not clear what causes skin tags, though they are not contagious. On the other hand, warts are caused by a virus and can be transferred to one area of the skin to another and other people as well.
What are the Causes of Skin Tags?
As mentioned above, it is not clear what causes skin tags. Various studies mention some underlying causes, but no one can accurately identify why they evolve.
Skin tags are predominantly believed to be caused by frequent friction on the skin. It is most common on armpits where friction from moving of the arms usually happens. It is common as well on the necks where clothing and pieces of jewelry may constantly rub on the skin.
Some also say that skin tags are genetically caused. It may run in the family. If your parents have skin tags, the likelihood of the children to have one is certain. Despite that, no scientist yet has found a single gene that is responsible for skin tags.
Pregnancy is also one of the causes of skin tags. The fluctuation in hormones during pregnancy is believed to be accountable for the appearance of skin tags. Some studies also show a connection between high blood sugar levels and skin tags. So, if you are diabetic, there’s a chance that you will have a skin tag.
Obesity is said to be one of the causes as well.
Does Skin Tags Cause Rashes?
Skin tags may not be pleasant to look at, but thankfully, they are painless. They should not be itchy or sore. However, there are some instances that rashes, or reddening of the skin, develop in the same particular area where the skin tags are growing.
Why is that?
Rashes, in general, are swollen or irritated skin. Sometimes, they appear in the same areas where the skin tags are because skin tags grow on body folds, and it is where friction on the skin normally happens. The constant friction or rubbing of the skin causes rashes.
With that being said, rashes and skin tags are caused by the same factor. It is not skin tags causing the skin to have rashes.
When Do Rashes on Skin Tags be a Cause of Concern?
As long as you are not scratching or picking on your skin tags, rashes on the same area where skin tags are should not be a concern. Most likely, they are both unrelated and the rash is being caused by other factors.
If a rash doesn’t go away after quite some time, and if the itchiness and pain become severe, you should have it checked by your dermatologist to see what’s causing it.
Rashes can be caused by an allergic reaction to some things like foods that you are consuming, medicine that you are taking or some skin products that you are applying. It is best to have it checked so that you can avoid them.
You might also be suffering from other more serious skin problems like eczema and psoriasis. Both of these causes inflamed, itchy, and dry spots on the skin. Dermatologists don’t exactly know what’s causing them, but there are several available medications given to keep the rashes at bay.
Is it Safe to Remove Skin Tags?
Sure thing, skin tags are quite bothersome to look at and might lower someone’s self-esteem. Generally, they don’t require treatment and may fall off on their own eventually. However, you may want to have them removed to make your skin clearer and less irritating.
There are several products and techniques available online that will help you in removing skin tags.
One of the popular techniques is ligation, an act of tying a band at the base of the skin tag aiming to cut off the supply of blood. The cells on the skin tag will die if there’s no supply of blood running through it. Once the cells die, the skin tag will fall off, usually within a maximum of 10 days.
There are also kits available online that contain cream and an applicator that will help in removing skin tags. Usually, it is recommended to first clean the skin surface with alcohol, file down the skin tag, then apply the cream. You will feel a mild stinging sensation after applying the cream. The skin tag is expected to fall off within 2-3 weeks.
Skin tags can be removed by using liquid nitrogen as well. The liquid nitrogen freezes the skin tags and makes it fall off after a few days. Necessary precautions are needed when using this one because it might burn the surrounding skin surface. It is recommended to apply petroleum jelly on the surroundings of the skin tags first before applying the cream. This may take a maximum of 10 days before the skin tag will fall off.
What are the Surgical Procedures to Remove Skin Tags?
With the list of the do-it-yourself procedures in removing skin tags mentioned above, you can remove your skin tags on your own. However, there are some significant risks associated with it. It is always best to ask for the assistance of a dermatologist.
If you are quite afraid of doing it on your own and decided to seek professional help, there are several procedures that you may undergo with the help of trained medical professionals.
Skin tags can be easily removed by procedures like electrocautery, cryosurgery, or excision. Electrocautery is the act of burning off the skin tags. Cryosurgery is freezing the skin tags while excision is cutting the skin tags.
These procedures cause minimal discomfort and minimal scarring. The recovery time is also minimal. However, there are some cases wherein the skin tags grow back and additional ones will form.
As a summary, skin tags may not pose any risk to one’s physical health, but it can affect his emotional aspect, especially if it lowers one’s self-esteem and prevents one from confidently socializing with other people. You may or you may not do something about it. It will all depend on the person having it.
Anyway, there are a lot of ways to deal with it; either on your own or with the help of a professional as mentioned above. But always keep in mind that necessary precautionary measures should always be observed.