Skin Tags

Ever wonder what those bits of soft growth are on your neck or even eyelids? Here are the facts

What are skin tags?

Also known as acrochorda, skin tags are small, benign growths attached to the underlying skin by a thin stalk, and typically appear on the neck, armpits and groin – areas where clothing rubs against the skin or where there is a lot of skin-to-skin friction. They can also be found on the eyelids and under the breasts in women.

Skin tags appear more often with age, and they are common among people over 40. They also tend to be seen among those who are overweight and may be associated with diseases such as diabetes. Skin tags also commonly occur during pregnancy – this is believed to be caused by hormonal changes.

Do they cause problems?

They are harmless and generally may be left alone. However, skin tags can become irritated and infected if they are constantly rubbed or get repeatedly caught in clothing. In these situations, it is advised to have them removed. As they are also not pleasant to look at, they can be removed for cosmetic reasons.

Are skin tags the same as warts?

No, they are different, although they can sometimes be misdiagnosed as warts. Warts are infectious skin lesions caused by a virus and can spread if untreated. Warts tend to have a rougher and more irregular surface, whereas skin tags tend to be smooth and soft.

What are the treatment options?

Skin tags are easily removed through a minor surgical procedure under topical or local anaesthesia. They are usually snipped off or cauterised. While surgery can remove the skin tag completely, the treated skin can be a bit red and scabbed for about 10 days after the procedure. In some instances, cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen can be used. Topical medications are not effective for skin tags.

Can skin tags recur?

Yes they can, even after removal. It is not totally preventable, although general measures such as maintaining a healthy weight and minimising friction and irritation in locations where skin tags are prone to occur, will help lower the chances of recurrence.