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Definition

Skin tags which are also called acrochordons or papilloma are benign but annoying skin growth. Skin tags tend to appear in midlife, and may be an inherited condition. Skin tags can vary quite a bit in appearance. They may be smooth or irregular, and either simply be raised above the surrounding skin or have a stalk (a peduncle) so that the skin tag hangs from the skin.

Skin tags develop in both men and women as they grow older. They are skin colored or darker and range in size from 1mm to 5cm. Some are the same color as surrounding skin while others are darker than surrounding skin. In most cases, they are attached to the underlying skin by a small band of tissue called a stalk or peduncle.

Causes

Skin tags are very common. They are tiny skin protrusions, and may have a small narrow stalk connecting the skin bump to the surface of the skin. They are usually painless and do not grow or change, except for occasional irritation from rubbing by clothing or other friction. Their origin is unknown.

Symptoms

A skin tag is a small, brown or flesh-colored flap of skin that is usually narrow at its base. Skin tags may appear around the neck, under the arms, under the breasts, in groin creases, and on the inside of the upper thigh area.

Treatment

Doctors can recognize skin tags easily by examining the skin. For skin tags with a characteristic appearance a biopsy is unnecessary. Surgery is also usually recommended to remove a skin lesion that shows any sign of turning cancerous, for example, a mole that has changed shape or color. After these have been removed, a small sample of the removed tissue is sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope. This is called a biopsy.

Some people remove skin tags at home by applying solutions designed for wart removal. Some people find these products more effective to remove skin tags than to remove warts. There are also many over-the-counter products that are specifically designed to remove skin tags at home, but they are not as efficient as removing the skin tags simply by cutting them off.

Usually, skin tags cause no trouble, but they may be unattractive, and clothing or nearby skin may rub and irritate them so that they bleed or hurt. A doctor can easily remove a skin tag by burning it off with an electric needle or by cutting it off with a scalpel or scissors.

Another removal method is the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the growth. Whatever treatment is used, remember that even if all skin tags are removed, new ones may appear. There is no known way to prevent the formation of skin tags.

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