What Are Skin Tags?

You might have one right now:

A  small, fleshy protrusion of skin that doesn’t hurt or itch. It’s probably the same colour as the rest of your body, and it may be circular or oblong, usually hanging by a thin stalk.What are skin tags?
Some of the spots and marks that pop up on your skin can be serious, but skin tags in general are not. Soft and smooth, their colour can vary: they are usually the same tone as the rest of your skin, but they can also be brown, and they may appear darker in fair-skinned individuals. Some skin tags even turn red or black, if they get twisted and their blood supply is cut off.

Who gets skin tags and what causes them?

People who are overweight or obese are more prone to skin tags because they have more folds of skin. But there’s another reason being heavy makes you more likely to have them. Carrying extra weight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and studies have shown that people with this kind of diabetes have more skin tags, as do people with high blood-sugar levels.

This suggests a relationship between skin tags and the hormone insulin, which governs sugar levels in the blood.Children rarely get skin tags, but a skin disease called nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (also known as Gorlin syndrome) can produce growths that look like skin tags. This is a genetic disorder that leads to the skin cancer basal cell carcinoma. That’s why anything that looks like a skin tag on a child will often be biopsied.

Should you get rid of a skin tag?

Occasionally skin tags fall off on their own. But in general, once they appear, they’re usually there to stay. While it’s understandable that you’d want to get yours removed, think about it first, since there’s no health reason to snip it off. “It is not medically necessary to remove skin tags and it is fine to leave them be,” says Dr. Ferguson. “Removal can be considered if they are irritated or if they present a cosmetic concern.”The safe way to have a skin tag removed
When it comes to removal, this is one body issue not to DIY. True, the tags are benign, and it might seem like you could cut yours off quickly and easily with cuticle scissors. But doing so can cause pain, bleeding, and the potential for infection.

Since you need to see a dermatologist to confirm the bump is indeed a skin tag and not something more serious, like warts or skin cancer, play it safe and have it removed in your doctor’s office.

“There are a few different techniques that can be used to remove skin tags depending on location, size, and skin type,” says Dr. Ferguson. Each method is simple and relatively painless. Your doctor may choose to freeze the tag off with liquid nitrogen (called cryosurgery); burn it off (electrocautery); or cut it off at the base with sterile scissors or a blade. If the tag is a large one, you may need local anesthesia and stitches.

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