A skin tag, technically called acrochordon, is a soft balloon of extra skin that hangs off one’s body. While unsightly, they are rarely dangerous. These narrow pieces of flesh usually develop on parts of the body that have a crease or fold that rubs together. They are often found in the groin, armpits, upper chest, eyelids, and neck areas. These flesh colored or slightly darker stalks of skin may look smooth or irregular in shape. They often begin after mid-life and can measure up to a half inch in size. No one is immune.
Skin tags sometimes appear in groups. They are thought to contain fibers, ducts, nerve cells, fat cells under a covering of skin. They become annoying if they interfere with jewelry or shaving. Removal of skin tags is thought to be cosmetic; hence, it is not covered by insurance. If however, the tag becomes painful, twisted, irritated or bleeds, one should seek a dermatologist’s opinion because they rarely fall off on their own.
Dermatologists will use one of the following to remove the tag: cauterization, cryosurgery, ligation or excision. Cauterization involves burning off the tag with electrolysis (heat). Cryosurgery involves freezing the tag with liquid nitrogen. This may cause some inflammation but the tag will fall off naturally within a couple of weeks. Ligation interrupts the blood supply. Excision cuts the skin tag off by means of a scalpel. The area is usually numbed before the procedure. When a skin tag is around the eye, consider visiting with an ophthalmologist.
Seeing a dermatologist for skin care concerns is the only way to ascertain whether a condition is serious or not. It is the safest way to remove any growth. Removing skin tags at home is not recommended as anytime the skin is cut, one is exposing the body to possible infection.