Understanding Skin Tags: Causes, Risks, and When to Remove Them

Skin tags are small, soft growths that hang off the skin and can appear almost anywhere. Although they are typically harmless, skin tags are prevalent and can cause concern for many due to their appearance and the irritation they can sometimes cause.

Often mistaken for other skin conditions, skin tags are generally non-cancerous and pose no threat to health. However, they can be bothersome or unsightly, leading people to consider their removal. In this blog, Kulani Spa will provide a comprehensive understanding of skin tags, skin tag removal, what causes them, their associated risks, and when you might consider having them removed.

Causes & Risks of Skin Tags

Skin tags usually develop where skin folds create friction, such as the neck, underarms, eyelids, groin folds, and under the breasts. While the exact cause is poorly understood, several factors can increase the likelihood of developing skin tags. [1]

Genetics plays a significant role, so if your parents have skin tags, you might also be more prone to developing them. Hormonal changes, particularly those associated with pregnancy, can also lead to the formation of skin tags.

Other risk factors include obesity and type 2 diabetes, conditions that often result in skin friction and hormonal imbalances, respectively. Aging is another factor; skin tags become more common as people age. 

How to Identify Skin Tags

Identifying a skin tag is relatively straightforward due to its unique appearance. These growths are small, soft, and typically flesh-colored or slightly darker. They often dangle from the skin on a thin stalk known as a peduncle. Unlike moles, which are usually flat or slightly raised and can be pigmented, skin tags are more lobulated and can vary in size from a few millimeters to a few centimeters. [2]

It’s important to note that if you notice a sudden change in the size, color, or shape of a skin tag, or if it becomes painful or bleeds, you should consult a healthcare provider. These changes might indicate that the growth is something other than a skin tag and could require a different type of treatment.

When to Consider Skin Tag Removal

People usually consider skin tag removal in the following cases. 

1. Cosmetic Reasons

Many people opt to remove skin tags simply because they dislike their appearance. While skin tags are harmless, they can be aesthetically displeasing, especially in visible areas such as the face or neck. Removing them for cosmetic reasons can improve self-esteem and reduce self-consciousness.

2. Irritation

Skin tags can irritate by rubbing against clothing, jewelry, or other skin. This irritation can cause redness, swelling, and sometimes minor bleeding. If a skin tag frequently gets irritated, removal can prevent discomfort and avoid potential complications such as infection.

3. Pain or Discomfort

Occasionally, skin tags can cause pain if they get snagged on clothing or jewelry or if they twist on their stalk. This can be particularly problematic in areas where movement is frequent, such as the underarms or groin. In such cases, removal is often recommended to alleviate pain and prevent further issues.

4. Uncertainty

Sometimes, determining whether a growth is a skin tag or something else, such as a mole or wart, can be challenging. If there is any doubt, it’s crucial to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis. A healthcare professional can examine the growth and recommend the best action, including removal if necessary.

Skin Tag Removal Options

The preferred method for removing skin tags is through a dermatologist. Professional removal ensures the procedure is done safely and minimizes the risk of complications such as infection or scarring. Dermatologists have various methods for removing skin tags, and they can advise on the best option based on the tag’s size and location. [3]

However, the standard methods of skin tag removal include;

1. Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy involves freezing the skin tag with liquid nitrogen. This method causes the tag to fall off after a few days. It is quick and generally well-tolerated, although some may experience mild discomfort during the procedure.

2. Excision

Excision involves cutting off the skin tag with a sterile surgical blade or scissors. This method is quick and effective, often performed with a local anesthetic to minimize discomfort.

3. Ligation

Ligation involves tying off the base of the skin tag with a surgical thread, cutting off its blood supply. The tag eventually falls off within a few days. This method is typically used for more petite skin tags.

4. At-Home Removal

While numerous at-home removal kits and remedies are available, it is generally advised against removing skin tags at home. Doing so can lead to complications such as infection, excessive bleeding, and scarring. Professional removal is always the safer choice.

Differentiating Skin Tags from Other Skin Growths

Differentiating skin tags from other skin growths, such as moles and warts, can be challenging. Here are some pointers to help you distinguish between them:

1. Moles

Typically flat or slightly raised, it can be any shade from flesh-colored to dark brown or black. Moles are usually symmetrical and have even borders. [4]

2. Warts

Caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), warts are usually rough to the touch and can appear anywhere on the body. They might have a cauliflower-like texture and are more likely to spread than skin tags.

Conclusion

Skin tags are common, harmless growths that many people occasionally encounter. Various factors, including genetics, hormonal changes, and friction, can cause them. While they are usually benign, skin tags can be irritating or unsightly, leading some to consider removal.

If you are bothered by a skin tag, take expert guidance from Kulani Spa. Our professional skin tag removal methods are safe and effective, ensuring minimal risk of complications. Contact us for further details.

FAQs

1. What Are The Dangers Of Removing Skin Tags?

Removing skin tags at home can lead to complications such as infection, excessive bleeding, and scarring. It’s safer to opt for professional removal to minimize these risks.

2. What is the risk factor of skin tags?

Skin tags are generally benign and don’t pose significant health risks. However, friction, hormonal changes, and genetics can increase their likelihood of developing.

References

[1]https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/skin-tags#:~:text=They%20are%20common%2C%20especially%20as,to%20remove%20a%20skin%20tag

[2]https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/67317 

[3]https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/skin-tags 

[4]https://www.everydayhealth.com/skin-and-beauty/skin-tag-causes-and-treatments.aspx 

 

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Sabina Gordon

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