Their official name being acrochordon, skin tags are also known cutaneous papilloma, cutaneous tag, fibroepithelial polyp, fibroma molluscum, fibroma pendulum, papilloma colli, soft fibroma, and Templeton skin tag. All these names, however, do not change the fact that skin tags are but small, harmless non-malignant (benign) growths that consist of a core of fibers and ducts (fibrovascular core), nerve cells, fat cells and a typical epidermal covering. Although not always, skin tags most frequently appear in skin folds such as those found in the armpits, in the groin, at the neckline, under the breasts, behind the ears, and on the eyelids.
Skin tags vary largely in appearance as they are usually raised off the skin by soft-tissue stems that are known as peduncle, their size most often ranges from that similar to a grain of rice to a gulf ball, and their surface may be either smooth or rough and irregular.
Causes and Risk Factors of Skin Tags
What conclusively causes skin tags to develop, why they develop and how they develop are all questions that, as of yet, have no answers. However, studies show that there is a close link between skin tags and advanced age as well as obesity. Furthermore, researchers suspect that genetics and heredity are significant factors which determine whether or not an individual may be prone to develop skin tags.
Skin tags are said to be so common that an estimated 46% of the general (man and woman) world population have developed them at one time or another and the highest prevalence is among those individuals who have type 2 diabetes mellitus, pregnant women, and suffers of the Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome and the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Other possible and / or probably causes for the development of skin tags are chaffing of skin against skin such as present at skin folds; the use of illegal and medically unsupervised use of steroids which affect the skin’s collagen fibers to become affixed and thus form skin tags; the insulin resistance that is caused by diabetes; the human papilloma virus; and the profuse production of hormones which naturally occurs during pregnancy and among patients of acromegaly (gigantism).
The Removal of Skin Tags
Skin tags that are overly irritated by clothing, jewelry or those which are torn off accidentally or deliberately; may begin bleeding and thus can become infected. For that reason as well as for cosmetic reasons, many people opt to have them removed.
Skin tags are very easily removable but because they contain nerve cells, such procedures require some form of anesthesia and are considered to be minor surgeries. There are four methods which are commonly used to remove skin tags and those are:
- 1. Cauterization. This procedure removes tags with the use of an electrolysis instrument.
- 2. Cryosurgery. This involves freezing the skin tag that then gets flushed off as it thaws out.
- 3. Ligation. Ligation stops the blood flow that nourishes the skin tag which then dries up and falls away.
- 4. Excision. In excision, the skin tag is cut away by a scalpel or some other sharp surgical device.