Skin tags are benign (non cancerous) tumors which form on the skin as a large flat scaly area, sometimes with a coloration difference that gives them the appearance of a flat mole. The skin tag may feel rough and stiff like a scab or callus, and essentially has the appearance of a scale growing on the skin. Some tags protrude on stalks, resulting in a pendant-like appearance. Skin tags happen to roughly sixty percent of adults at some time in their lives; they generally begin to occur in middle age, and occur more commonly in women than among men.
Irritations and Annoyances Caused by Skin Tags
No one has identified a definitive single cause of skin tags, although genetics probably play a role, and they are often associated with cases of diabetes mellitus and obesity. Skin tags may appear anywhere on the body, although the most common skin tag sites are chest and armpits, neck and back, and groin. They may appear one at a time, or in groups. Skin tags aren’t a contagious condition.
Skin tags are entirely harmless in their own right, and not a cause for broader concerns about your health, but they can cause annoyances depending on their appearance and location. Skin tags on the face or neck can make a person feel self-conscious, and skin tags can be located in spots where it’s difficult to avoid irritation—such as in the path of a bra strap, for example, which can rub and irritate the skin tag and cause it to be more than a minor irritant. There are some essential oils available on the market which is purported, with regular application, to eliminate skin tags; however, this approach is slow acting and not guaranteed to be fully effective. If a skin tag is causing significant problems, a physician can assist you with removal options.
Skin Tag Removal
In many cases, patients choose to have skin tags removed for no reason more serious than appearances. Particularly if the skin tags have become prominent in an area of the face, a person can feel self-conscious about their appearance. Skin tags in the genital area can particularly cause embarrassment, as they could be mistaken for genital warts—which are similar in appearance, but a much more serious condition, not to mention contagious. For a person concerned that an intimate partner would mistake the appearance of skin tags for a more embarrassing (and health-threatening) condition, the best option may be removal.
A physician can surgically remove skin tags by several methods, including a simple slice with a scalpel, a laser removal, or electro cautery. Any of these can leave a slight scar, although the scar is generally less unsightly than the original skin tag had been, and further diminishes over time. Of the surgical removal options, laser removal is likely to scar the least. Another option for removal of skin tags is cryogenic removal, or freezing them off with the application of liquid nitrogen. This method can result in scarring just as surgical removal does.