What Can I Do About Ugly Skin Tags?

What Can I Do About Ugly Skin Tags?

A skin tag is a small piece of soft, hanging skin that may have a peduncle or stalk. A skin tag can appear anywhere on the body, but especially on the skin’s creases or folds. Skin tags are not dangerous when identified, but they can be a nuisance for both men and women equally. It’s a common occurrence with most people as they age.

Jennifer Wong, a certified registered physician’s assistant specializing in dermatology mentions that “About half of us will develop skin tags – medical name acrochordons. Their prevalence means that dermatologists have developed a range of treatments – some do-it-yourself, some in the office.”

The reasons people get skin tags aren’t always clear. “They may be related to genes, hormones, or underlying conditions. The same is true for keratosis pilaris: small bumps that usually show up on the upper arms and thighs due to pores becoming plugged with the skin protein keratin. Seborrheic keratoses, which are warty- or waxy-looking tan or brown growths, generally develop as people age; genes and the sun may be factors.”

“Fortunately,” continues Wong, “we do know how to treat these conditions so that they don’t interfere with people’s lives.”

First, rule out more serious problems. “It’s crucial to make sure that the problem is benign,” emphasizes Wong. “For example, we want to make sure that it’s seborrheic keratosis and not skin cancer – or a wart, which is due to a contagious virus. Everyone needs to develop a skin check-up schedule that will establish their baseline skin condition and support ongoing monitoring for problems, especially skin cancer.”

Are your skin tags interfering with life? Please get rid of them. “If skin tags or seborrheic keratoses are obvious or interfere with clothing or jewelry,” Wong suggests, “they can be removed. Your dermatologist has a range of options, including freezing (cryosurgery) or electrosurgery. Skin tags can also be removed by scissor excision.”

Skin tags can grow to the point that it becomes excessive or even painful. See a doctor at that point. “If a ‘benign’ skin growth changes or becomes painful, it needs evaluation to rule out a medical problem,” states Wong. “And with skin tags, if there are a great number, that requires a check-up for underlying health problems, in particular diabetes.”

But what about over-the-counter medications? Why choose a dermatologist to remove a skin tag instead of a product you can buy at the pharmacy? “It’s best to treat skin tags in the office because sometimes unexpected reactions can happen with over-the-counter products. There is a risk of the skin lesion being something other than just a benign skin tag, bleeding, infection, and also a chemical burn.’ Harmless’ skin growths can still be problems,” concludes Wong. “Your dermatologist can help solve them.”

Other names for skin tags are an acrochordon, cutaneous papilloma, cutaneous tag, fibroepithelial polyp, fibroma molluscum, fibroma pendulum, soft fibroma, and Templeton skin tags. More on skin tags here

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