What are Skin Tags?

Ever wondered what those wart-like protuberances are on your skin, especially on the neck and armpits? They are known by many names, but most dermatologists in Singapore refer to them collectively as skin tags.

Causes of Skin Tags

Some of the names for skin tags include soft fibromas, filiform, acrochordons, papillomas, fibroepithelial polyps, and pedunculated. These names also describe the distinct features of some of the skin tags. They may look like warts but are not, and are made from blood vessels and collagen fibers covered by either a thin or thick layer of epidermis.

Generally, they have the same color as the person’s skin and can be as small as 1 mm in diameter, while the largest can grow as much as 5 cm in diameter. It is not yet clear what causes skin tags, but they are generally harmless.

Some factors, however, might increase a person’s chances of getting them; such as, irritation and chafing, that is why most skin tags are found where skin rubs against skin (groin, neck, and armpits); insulin resistance or the disease known as syndrome X; human papillomavirus (HPV); and elevated levels of growth factors during hormonal change or if the person suffers from gigantism. They are also more common among people who are overweight or obese or those who have type 2 diabetes.

Treatment and Removal

Other skin diseases might look like skin tags, such as viral warts, molluscum contagiosum, and seborrheic keratoses, that is why you need to consult a doctor if you want to have them removed. Skin tags are not signs of a deadly disease nor will it cause any harm to your body, but they appear nasty and disgusting to some people.

Skin tags can sometimes form clusters, making the appearance even more horrifying. Besides the aesthetic concerns, skin tags can get irritated or infected and must be removed before it can lead to a more serious medical concern. Before a skin tag can be removed, the doctor needs to examine them to determine if they are skin tags or not. Some might recommend a biopsy to rule out the possibility of cancer if the skin tag is unusually large in size.

There are various ways to remove skin tags safely; such as, surgical excision using scissors, electrosurgery or diathermy, cryotherapy or freezing, and ligation or tying a suture on the skin tag. Some people, however, prefer over-the-counter solutions to skin tags because they are more affordable, but this is generally frowned upon by medical practitioners because you need to rule out the possibility of other diseases.

Some remove the skin tags by tying them off to cut off the blood flow using a string or a dental floss. The skin tag will fall off eventually after a day when you leave the string on. There are also some approved skin tag removal devices sold at pharmacies for removing more than one skin tag at a time.