The Dangers of Skin Tags: Facts, Myths and Reality

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Fact and fiction about skin tags

Photo credit Jmarchn via Wikimedia Commons

Skin Tag Facts

  • Skin tags are common small, soft skin benign growths
  • Though skin tags may be harmless, they can be pretty annoying
  • Often, skin tags appear on the neck, eyelids, under breasts, groin folds, and armpits
  • An individual can have one to a hundred skin tags
  • Almost each and every person develops a skin tag at some point in their lives
  • Obesity associates the growth of skin tags
  • Obese and middle-aged people are more susceptible to developing skin tags
  • Removing a skin tag does not necessarily lead to the growth of other skin tags
  • The destructive treatment options – tying off the skin tag with a suture | thread, cutting of skin tags, as well as freezing.

Skin Tag Myths and Reality

Common myths about skin tags

Listed below are a few popular myths about skin tags as well as explanations as to why they are myths:

Myth#1: Skin tags are ONLY prevalent in old people.

A vast majority of individuals presume that skin tags are a skin condition which only affects older people. This is not the case! It is true that the older individuals are more susceptible to the condition – but so are the obese persons.

Myth#2: Skin tag removal leads to scarring.

h-skin tag formulaThis is a false statement. Of course, if you get rid of a skin tag without paying attention to the recommendations and precautions of the entire procedure – then scarring can’t be too far off. On the flipside, if you remove a skin tag through proper home treatment options | removal by a dermatologist – then, scarring is not a possibility. Probably just a little redness will occur but, no scarring!

Myth#3: Skin tags are in fact cancerous growths.

This is the first notion that most have in the case that skin tags become more prominent in old age, of an individual. Most presume that skin tags are a form of cancerous growth and as a result, they worry. A doctor’s diagnosis will easily ward off these notions and show that a skin tag is merely a small flap of skin on one’s skin.

Myth#4: It is impossible to remove skin tags

This is false because you can get rid of skin tags as they are not part of one’s actual skin. Skin tags aren’t a constituent of the actual skin, and their removal is pretty easy.

Myth#5: Skin tag removal results in the growth of more skin tags

This is another common myth that holds no truth. This is the reason as to why a significant number of individuals don’t get rid of the bothersome skin tags. If you remove a skin tag and another | other develop on the same spot – it is because they originally were meant to spawn there and NOT because you got rid of the skin tag.

Who is more likely to get skin tags?

Reports show that more than half – if not all – of the entire globe’s population develop skin tags at some point in their lives. Even though skin tags are generally acquired rather than being present at birth, and can develop in anyone, they are more prevalent in adulthood. The skin tags’ prevalence tends to spike up to the age 60. Toddlers and children can also develop skin tags – particularly around their necks and their underarms. Obesity associates skin tags’ growth and thus obese people are more susceptible to developing skin tags—especially if they have a tendency to wear tight clothing.

Hormonal elevations, such as those seen over the pregnancy period, can result in the development of skin tags and thus pregnant women are more likely to nest the growth of skin tags. Skin tags are generally harmless and most of the dermatologists consider their removal a totally cosmetic procedure.

Therefore, they DO NOT have to treat them unless they are bothersome – for example, if they keep getting in the way of your jewelry pieces leaving a bloody result behind. Your dermatologist can easily oversee the removal of the bothersome skin tag during or after the pregnancy period.

Even though there are no close associations between skin tags and other diseases, obesity can result in the growth of many skin tags. Also, obese people are more likely to develop acanthosis nigricans on the individuals’ armpits or on their necks. At the same time, obese individuals may be predisposed to high blood sugars and fats.

There are a couple of structures that resemble skin tags though they are not. Occasionally, accessory digit and accessory tragus can be confused with skin tags owing to their resemblance. Therefore, a pathological examination with the tissue’s biopsy helps distinguish skin tags, accessory digital and accessory tragus. Also, the pathological examination and the tissue’s biopsy help clear out any questions which may arise about the diagnosis.skin_tag_long_banner

If I get rid of a skin tag, will more grow?

No. Fortunately, there is no sufficient evidence to show that the removal of a skin tag can lead to the growth of more skin tags – you are in no position to cause skin tags to ‘seed’ or spread to other parts of the body by removing them. Unfortunately, there are individuals who are more susceptible to developing skin tags and they may experience their development periodically. Some individuals book appointments with their doctors to request the periodic |annual | quarterly removal of skin tags.

Is a skin tag a tumor?

Yes. Skin tags are a type of harmless skin tumors | growth. Nonetheless, they are completely benign. Skin tags are malignant – they are not cancerous and they do not become cancerous in the case that they are left untreated.

There are extremely rare occasions in which a skin tag can become precancerous | cancerous. Ensure that you book an appointment with your doctor for a biopsy of the skin tag-like bumps that grow | bleed, or for those that display an array of colors ranging from red, pink, brown, or black to exclude other causes such as skin cancer.

Are skin tags contagious?

No, skin tags aren’t contagious in any way. There is no sufficient evidence to show that skin tags are contagious. In most cases, people DO NOT contract skin tags from anyone and DO NOT transmit them to other individuals.

Unlike warts which hail from a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) and are highly contagious, there’s not sufficient evidence to show close associations between skin tags and the virus. HPV associates the growth of warts in all of the bodily parts covered in skin – inclusive of the anal and the genital areas.

How do skin tags look under a microscope?

Before lab experts look at a skin tag under a microscope, there needs to be a laboratory preparation of the tissue first. The laboratory specialists have to stain the skin with ‘H&E’ (hematoxylin and eosin). Under a microscope’s eye, a skin tag constitutes a colored spherical tissue which attaches to a small stalk. The epidermis comprises of a purple-colored outer layer overlying a pink-colored core known as the dermis.

The epidermis (the skin’s outer layer) shows hyperplasia – which is the abnormal overgrowth of normal skin – and it appears to enclose the dermis (underlying skin). Also, the normally present collagen fibers appear to be abnormally swollen and loose under a microscope’s view. Usually, skin tags have no moles | hairs | other skin structures present.

Even though a vast majority of the skin tags are simply destroyed, a skin tag’s tissue is at times sent to a pathologist (a specialist physician) to determine the exact diagnosis and ensure that there are no other skin abnormalities present. Note – the irregular skin growths which are larger | bleed | have an unusual presentation may at times need a pathological examination to rule out the presence of irregular cells | skin cancers.

Some of the common skin conditions which often mimic skin tags are – moles, warts, milia, cysts, nevus lipomatosis, neurofibromas, and seborrheic keratoses.  Some of the skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma, and basal cell carcinoma may at times be confused for skin tags.

What are the dangers of skin tags?

Skin tags pose no discomfort or pain except for the cosmetic appearance. When skin tags are repeatedly irritated, they result in symptoms – for example, in the groin or by the collar. The most common removal reason is the cosmetic removal of skin tags for unsightly appearance. Occasionally, an individual may remove a skin tag because it has become irritated to a point that it is red from the hemorrhage (bleeding) | black because of twisting and necrosis (the death of the skin’s tissue). At times, a skin tag may become snagged by an individual’s jewelry, clothing, seat belts, or pets resulting in discomfort and pain. Overall, skin tags are benign growths which aren’t malignant – they have no cancer potential.

Sometimes, a skin tag may spontaneously fall off without any discomfort or pain. This happens when the skin tag twists its stalk at its base – which interrupts the skin tag’s blood flow.

What is the treatment option for skin tags?

It is important to note that skin tags DO NOT have to be treated. Deciding on not to remove a skin tag is a reasonable option especially if the skin tag is not bothersome. Listed below are a couple of medical and home treatment options for the skin tags which are bothersome:

  • Use a scissors to remove a skin tag – with or without anesthetic
  • Use electric cautery to burn a skin tag off or electro-desiccation
  • Use liquid nitrogen to freeze the skin tag off
  • Tie off a skin tag at its stalk’s base with a string or a piece of dental floss

The effective ways to remove skin tags – using scissors to remove skin tags, burning (using a physician’s medical electrical cautery) or freezing (using liquid nitrogen). Also, applying the H-skin Tag Homeopathic formula has beneficial aspects in ensuring that the skin tag naturally falls off in a couple of days.

Usually, you can easily remove small skin tags without the need of an anesthetic whereas the larger benign growths may require the use of a local anesthetic (injected Lidocaine) prior to the skin tag’s removal. Applying a topical anesthetic cream prior to the skin tag’s removal procedure is desirable in cases where there are a number of large skin tags.

Often, the medical experts who are certified to treat skin tags are dermatologists | internal medical physicians | family physicians. Occasionally, ophthalmologists (eye specialists) may help you get rid of the skin tags so close to the eyelid margin.

Also, there are effective self treatment options and home remedies – for example, you can tie off a small skin tag’s stalk with a string or a piece of dental floss and allow for the skin tag to fall off in a couple of days.

Using a scissors to get rid of a skin tag is advantageous in that there’s the immediate removal of the benign growth and the results are instant. The problem that looms with the use of any kind of scissors or minor medical procedures to get rid of a skin tag is that there is always minor bleeding involved.

Burning and freezing of skin tags pose a couple of possible risks if you settle for the treatment options:

  • Need for repeat treatment of the skin tag
  • Temporary discoloration of the skin
  • The skin tag may fail to fall off

There is no sufficient evidence to show that the removal of a skin tag leads to the development of more benign growths. Rather, some individuals may be more susceptible to the development of benign growths – which may occur periodically. Some of the patients require periodic skin tag removal of skin tags at quarterly | annual intervals.

Will my medical insurance cover the removal of a skin tag?

Most, if not all, of the insurance carriers classify the skin tags as cosmetics. Therefore, any removal procedures are self-pay treatment options. In the most uncommon instances, documented medical necessity for the highly symptomatic benign growths | suspicious growths may be key in the payment for treatment of the skin tags.

Can skin tags grow on the penis or scrotum?

Yes. Skin tags have a tendency to develop in unusual bodily parts such as the scrotum, penis, as well as in the opening of the penis tip. The sexually transmitted viral infections | conditions, such as genital warts, require a tissue biopsy before diagnosis.

Is there a vaginal skin tag?

It is quite unusual to find skin tags in moist, mucosal surfaces – for example, the vaginal area. Nonetheless, there are other types of benign polyps which infest these body sections. Soft fibromas | irritation polyps may develop in these bodily areas – mouth, vaginal section, and anal skin.

Skin tags are more rampant on dry skin areas such as the neck, groin folds, and armpits. Genital warts – which are growths brought about by the sexually transmitted virus HPV – have to be put into consideration during the diagnosis for growths infesting the genital area.

Skin tags may infrequently occur on external genitalia such as the labia minora and labia majora. Again, remember to rule out any sexually transmitted viral conditions in such body areas through a growth’s tissue biopsy.

Are there any creams or formulas which can remove skin tags?

Yes. Currently, there are no medically approved creams and formulas which can help get rid of skin tags. Mostly, a vast majority of individuals make use of physical methods to remove skin tags – cutting off a skin tag or tying them off using a thread | a piece of dental floss. Though it is not advisable to use products such as wart removers, Dermasil, tea tree oil, toothpaste, nail polish, unapproved hair-removal creams (Nair | Neet), the use of the creams and formulas such as the ‘H-skin Tag Homeopathic formula’ show beneficial aspects in getting rid of skin tags. It is important to note that the use of unapproved products can lead to possible secondary complications and irritation.

Is it necessary to have skin tags sent for biopsy?

You can get rid of the small skin tags without the need of sending the skin tag’s tissue for a biopsy | microscopic examination. However, there are atypical | overly huge benign growths which have to be sent to a pathologist for a microscopic examination to ensure that the tissue hails from a skin tag and nothing more. Also, the skin bumps that undergo rapid change |those that bleed are in need of a pathologic examination.

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