Skin Tags | Causes and Removal Options | Medical Dermatology

Skin tags, or skin tabs, as they are often called, are harmless brown or skin-colored bumps that appear around the neck, armpits and groin area. Typically, a skin tag is no larger than 2-5 mm in diameter, though it is possible for them to get bigger. Once they appear, they can continue to grow and have been known to reach sizes of 50 mm.

Who can get skin tags?

Anyone can get these small fleshy growths. They occur at the same rates in men and women. The exact cause of skin tags is unknown, but there is a greater occurrence in people who have gained weight. They are also common on women underneath their breasts where the underwire of a bra rubs against the skin. Pregnant women may also develop skin tags. Though they can occur at any age, there is a greater prevalence among middle-aged and older individuals. A few may appear or dozens can appear on one person. In fact, one person may have anywhere from just one skin tag to more than 100.

Skin tags are generally not painful unless they have been injured. Constrictive clothing or friction can cause them to become tender. They tend to occur in areas of friction, either from clothing or skin on skin contact. Babies are also susceptible to skin tags, due to the amount of excess skin they have. Younger children, who are prone to rubbing their eyes, may experience skin tags on their upper eyelids. However, the majority of people who experience skin tags are adults.

Are skin tags harmful?

Skin tags are benign and not associated with any other conditions. There is no medical reason to have them removed, but many people do so because of their appearance. Skin tag removal is relatively easy. A skin tag can be frozen off with liquid nitrogen, like a wart, or cut off using gradle scissors. A light topical anesthetic may be used to minimize discomfort.

Skin tags can reoccur at any time. There is no way of preventing them. Some individuals may need to get them removed regularly if they cause discomfort. If they continue to grow or become painful, consult a dermatologist to be sure the growths are actually tags and not something more serious. It is possible to mistake a precancerous mole for a skin tag.A trained dermatologist can determine if the growth is benign.

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