Do you have skin tags? Also known as acrochordon, millions of people have these benign growths of skin on their body. In fact, statistics show that roughly one-quarter of the population will develop them sometime during their life.
Skin Tags Explained
Skin tags are small growths of that skin with a flat top. While sizes vary, they typically measure 2 to 5 mm in diameter and develop in clusters. Some people assume they are the same as moles, but this isn’t necessarily true. Moles are more common — with most adults having 10 to 40 moles on their body — and have a darker color than skin tags.
Common Causes of Skin Tags
The most common cause of skin tags is friction. When an area of skin rubs against another area of the body or a garment of clothing, it may develop one or more skin tags. This is why skin tags are most commonly found around the thighs, armpits, neck and eyelids. Friction created by the skin rubbing against something causes the skin cells in that area to grow abnormally, thereby forming skin tags.
Because they form from friction, pregnant women have a higher risk of developing skin tags. The physiological changes in a pregnant woman‘s body creates more areas in which skin rubs together, especially during the third trimester. This same principle holds true for obese and overweight adults.
There’s also some belief that skin tags are correlated with blood sugar. A study of 110 adults found that 58 participants with skin tags also suffered from diabetes and 15 percent of participants suffered from increased glucose tolerance. Although this isn’t concrete evidence that elevated blood levels sugar causes skin tags, it certainly raises questions. Some researchers believe that skin tags are attributed to metabolism syndrome, so making lifestyle changes to improve cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels may protect against these benign growths of skin.
There are a few things you can do to lower your risk of developing skin tags, one of which is to wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes. Clothes that are heavy or hug your body are more likely to rub against your skin. And any skin that experiences constant friction is prone to developing these benign growths of skin.
Keeping problematic areas of your body dry can also help to protect against skin tags. When skin is moist, it’s more likely to create friction with other surfaces. Moisture causes skin to stick to other areas of the body or articles of clothing. A simple way to keep body moisture in check is to powder moist areas. If you’re going to gym to workout, consider applying baby powder to your thighs, armpits or other areas to keep them dry and discourage skin tags from forming.
Are Skin Tags Harmful?
Skin tags are typically harmless, causing no reason for concern. They aren’t cancerous and don’t grow much after developing. Nonetheless, many men and women who prefer not to have them on their body. Depending on their location, skin tags may lower a person’s self-confidence, causing him or her to avoid public and social situations. If a skin tag is located on a person’s eyelid, for instance, he or she may feel self-conscious about it.
Not all growths on the skin are skin tags, however. There are also moles, warts and melanomas, the latter of which can be harmful. One of the most common types of cancer, melanoma is characterized by irregular, typically malignant, cell growth in the melanocytes of the skin.
Why You Shouldn’t Pull Them Off
If you’re hoping to remove a skin tag, you should contact a professional rather than attempting to remove it yourself. Pulling or cutting off a skin tag may only remove the upper part, allowing the bottom to regrow. And because there are blood vessels inside them, any do-it-yourself removal will likely result in bleeding while creating an infection-prone area in the process.
Aside from bleeding and a risk of infection, you may not even be able to reach your skin tags. These benign growths often form in hard-to-reach areas of the body. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t attempt to remove skin tags yourself.
Thankfully, there are safe and effective surgical procedures available to remove skin tags. Cauterization involves the use of heat to burn off the tag and cauterize the skin. With cryosurgery, liquid nitrogen is applied directly to the skin tag to freeze it off. There’s also ligation, which involves disrupting the flow of blood to the skin tag. Finally, excision involves cutting off the skin tag at its base.
Don’t let skin tags affect your quality of life. Contact RENU Med Spa to learn more about their skin tag removal services in Washington DC. Led by Dr. Philip Schoenfeld, RENU Med Spa is a premier aesthetic surgery and spa treatment center.