Introduction and background
The medical term for skin tag is acrochordon. Other synonyms that have sometimes been used to refer to skin tags include soft warts, soft fibro as, fibro epithelial polyps (FEP), fibroma pendulans, and pedunculated fibroma.
Skin tags are very common and an acquired (not present at birth) benign skin growth that looks like a small piece of hanging skin that projects from the surrounding skin from a small, narrow stalk. Although skin tags may vary somewhat in appearance, they are usually smooth or slightly wrinkled and irregular, flesh-colored or slightly more brown. Early or beginning skin tags may be as small as a flattened pinpoint-sized bump around the neck. Some skin tags may be as large as a big grape.
What is skin tag?
A skin tag (acrochordon) is a small, soft, flesh-colored to dark brown growth that is either sessile or pedunculated. It is not skin cancer and does not become skin cancer. Skin tags are more common with increasing age. They appear most often in skin folds of the neck, axillae, trunk, beneath the breasts and in the groin area. They can become irritated by clothing or jewellery rubbing against them, and patients often want them removed.
Where do skin tags occur?
Skin tags can occur almost anywhere there is skin. Tags are thought to occur in characteristic locations where skin rubs against skin or clothing. Including the neck (where jewellery may rub), underarms, eyelids, and under the breasts (especially where under wire bras rub directly beneath the breasts). They can also be found on the upper chest and groin folds.
Diagnosis is usually done based on clinical appearance. They are small but can be up to 1 cm in diameter. They are skin-colored to brown in appearance and appear in skin folds, typically around the neck, armpits, beneath the breasts, or in the genital region. They are typically painless. As a result of twisting on the stalk, they may become inflamed or tender, or necrotic.
Pathology testing is not required if skin tags have a characteristic appearance. If a skin tag is immobile, is a different color than surrounding skin, is multicolored, or has raw or bleeding areas, consider sending the lesion for pathologic evaluation
Is a skin tag a tumour?
Skin tags are a type of growth or tumour, albeit a completely benign and harmless one. Tags are not cancerous (malignant) and not found to have potential to become cancerous if left untreated.
What problems do skin tags cause?
These tiny skin growths generally cause no symptoms unless they are repeatedly irritatedÂ as, for example, by the collar or in the groin.Â Cosmetic removal for unsightly appearance isÂ perhaps the most common reason they areÂ removed. Occasionally, a tag may require removal because it has become irritated and red from bleeding (haemorrhage) or black from twisting and dying of the skin tissue (necrosis). Sometimes they may become snagged by clothing, jewellery, and seatbelts, causing pain or discomfort. It has been known for a tag to spontaneously fall off without any pain or discomfort. This may be because the tag has twisted on itself at the stalk base, cutting the blood supply to the tag.
There is no evidence that removing tags causes more tags to grow. Rather, there are some people that may be more prone to developing skin tags and may have new growths periodically. There are also home remedies and self-treatments, including tying off the small tag stalk with a piece of thread or dental floss and allowing the tag to fall off over several days. This works by cutting the blood supply to the skin tag which then dies and falls off. However this can be painful. The advantage of scissor removal is that the growth is immediately removed and there are instant results. The potential disadvantage of any kind of scissor or minor surgical procedure to remove tags is minor bleeding. Possible risks with freezing or burning include temporary skin discoloration, need for repeat treatment(s), and failure for the tag to fall off.
However, now a days, various forms of alternative or natural therapies have evolved that ensure safe, without-side effects and economical removal of almost all kinds of skins tags and within the comfort of oneâ€™s own home.