Just what are skin tags? A skin tag, also called an acrochordon or cutaneous papilloma, is a small overgrowth of skin tissue that is typically considered harmless.
Although they can be found just about anywhere on the body, the most common areas where they tend to occur are on the eyelids, armpits, groin, neck and chest. They’re basically just of a bundle of excess fibers and ducts, along with some nerve and fat cells, covered by a layer of skin.
Skin tags are usually benign, but they can be a rather unpleasant sight and may even get in the way at times, especially if they’re located in an area that is commonly shaved. Let’s take a brief look at what is known about skin tags, so far.
The exact cause for skin tags remains unknown, although there are some indications that genetics may play a role in who gets them. A large number of experts believe that friction between certain parts of the body might be a major factor, especially when you consider the areas where they tend to appear. This might actually explain why they’re even more common in people who suffer from obesity, since there’s an excess amount of skin in these areas and the aforementioned friction would be hard to avoid.
As mentioned, skin tags are generally not harmful. With this in mind, most forms of treatment exist primarily for cosmetic purposes.
Here are the current treatment options available:
1.) Cauterization – feel the burn!
This method of removing skin tags is based on the use of heat and is typically performed by a dermatologist. The actual process involves burning the growth with electrolysis, via a heat-conducting metal probe.
2.) Cryosurgery – that cool feeling…
Cryosurgery involves freezing the growth, rather than burning it, as is done with cauterization. The extreme cold destroys the tissues, just as it does when applied to warts and moles. The use of liquid nitrogen is the most common method by which this is accomplished. It should be noted that dyschromic lesions have been noted as a side effect, in some cases.
3.) Excision – “Cut! That’s a skin tag.”
For very small skin tags, excision may be a suitable form of treatment. This involves cutting them off with either a scalpel or some surgical scissors. Trying this at home is not recommended, as a specialist should always be the one to determine whether a particular tag should be cut off or not.
4.) Ligation – “Squozed!”
This method involves cutting off the blood supply to the overgrown tag. Usually this is accomplished with a small piece of copper wire. Without a supply of blood, the tissues will not receive the required nutrition to sustain themselves and will fall off in a few days.
Although there are some alternative options available that involve the use of natural substances, these methods are not entirely proven and may vary in their effectiveness. The only way to be absolutely sure that you’ll be rid of a skin tag is to have it removed professionally, by someone who is qualified to decide which method is best for your situation. The last thing you need is to get an infection, which can sometimes be the result of either seeking treatment from the wrong person or attempting to treat the problem yourself, without taking the necessary precautions.
Contributed by Ed White