Skin tags tend to show up sometime after the age of 50. Those fleshy little bumps that appear on the body are usually harmless and pose no medical concern. But many patients are embarrassed and self-conscious about their presence. At Prizant Dermatology in Pittsburgh, PA, we can remove those frustrating growths and help you regain smooth, healthy skin again. Skin tag removal treatment is quick and easy, and it can be performed in the comfort of our offices.
All About Skin Tags
Skin tags, which are known medically as acrochordon, are little flaps of skin that hang from the body on stalks of flesh. They vary in size and usually are brown or flesh-colored. Skin tags appear on both men and women as part of the aging process. They tend to develop in folds of skin or in parts of the body where the skin rubs together, such as under the arms or in the groin area. The good news about skin tags, which are not cancerous, is that they don’t usually represent a medical concern. The bad news is that many patients consider them unsightly, and the tags can also get caught in clothing or jewelry and become irritated.
What Causes Skin Tags?
It is unknown how skin tags are caused, but the friction associated with the skin rubbing together may be a factor. Patients who have diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, human papillomavirus, or who are obese, are more likely to develop tags. Tags also commonly develop during pregnancy. Genetics may play a role since many patients with skin tags also have close relatives who have skin tags.
Where Are Skin Tags Most Likely to Form?
The neck and chest, under the breasts, and the armpits, back, abdomen, eyelids and groin area are all areas where skin tags frequently form. Skin tags that appear on the eyelids and grow to a certain size can sometimes impede a patient’s vision.
Can I Do Anything to Prevent Skin Tags?
Because the exact cause of skin tags is unclear, it’s hard to provide specific guidance about the steps you can take to prevent them. However, since skin tags are associated with obesity, adopting a healthy lifestyle and controlling your weight are good steps to take.
Is Personal Hygiene a Factor?
Although it’s always a good idea to keep your skin clean and cared for, skin tags are not associated with poor personal hygiene.
Does Sun Exposure Contribute to the Development of Skin Tags?
The sun can do a lot of damage to the skin, and it’s smart to make regular sunscreen use a habit. However, sun exposure does not contribute to the development of skin tags.
When Do Skin Tags Develop?
Skin tags are most likely to develop after the age of 50. They are very common among middle-aged and older adults. In fact, skin tags are believed to affect nearly half of the U.S. population.
What Are Skin Tags Made Up of?
Skin tags are usually comprised of the same type of tissue and fat that’s found throughout the body. The tags may develop when collagen and blood vessels are trapped within denser patches of skin.
Do I Need to Have Skin Tags Removed?
Because skin tags are harmless, there is no medical reason to remove them. When they are removed, it’s usually for cosmetic reasons by patients who are bothered by their appearance. Skin tags in certain locations also have a tendency to impede shaving or get caught in zippers, clothing, or jewelry, which can be frustrating and uncomfortable.
Getting Rid of Skin Tags
You may have heard about various home remedies for skin tag removal, but this is a process that’s best left to a medical professional. Resist the temptation to snip off the skin tag yourself. If you try to remove a skin tag yourself at home, you run the risk of bleeding, infection, and scarring. Small skin tags will occasionally clear up by themselves. If not, and if you want the skin tag taken off, your physician will use one of several methods to remove it. The size of the tag may determine which method is used, and each method is safe and effective. Several of these removal techniques are also used to take off moles.
Using surgical scissors or a scalpel, your physician will cut the tag out or snip it off.
A quick shot of liquid nitrogen will freeze the skin tag, causing it to eventually fall off while leaving the surrounding tissue intact.
An electric current is directed into the growth, causing it to dry out and eventually fall off. This type of treatment is similar to electrolysis.
What Should I Expect From Skin Tag Removal?
When you come into our practice to have a skin tag taken off, we’ll first examine the site to determine if it really is a skin tag. Before removing the growth, we may numb the area, particularly if it is a larger skin tag. The anesthesia may be done by injection or by the application of a topical cream. Most patients are surprised at just how quick and easy the removal process is.
We’ll send you home with specific instructions on cleaning and caring for your skin after treatment. In some cases, we may have a removed skin tag reviewed by a pathologist just to make sure there’s nothing to indicate a more serious skin condition.
Is Skin Tag Removal Permanent?
An old wives tale suggests that if you have a skin tag removed, several more will grow back in the same place, but that’s simply not true. Skin tags usually don’t return after they’ve been removed. However, if you are predisposed to skin tags, it’s possible they could form on another part of your body. That’s why it’s important to connect with a dermatologist who can monitor the overall health of your skin as well as the development of any skin tags over time.
What Does the Treatment Feel Like?
You’ll feel very little discomfort during the treatment. Given that many patients are having their skin tags removed because the tags too frequently become pinched or uncomfortable, the process of having them taken off is really a breeze. Most removal treatments can be completed in a matter of minutes, and you’ll be able to get right back to your usual schedule.
Who Is a Good Candidate?
Anyone who has a skin tag that they feel self-conscious about can be a good candidate for skin tag removal treatment. The treatment is fast and simple and can be done almost on the spot in our practice. Little is required of the patient in the way of pre-screening for this treatment. Most patients who have undergone skin tag removal treatment report an immediate boost in their self-confidence. They also report improved comfort because the skin tag that has been removed no longer gets caught on things.
Are There Any Over-the-Counter Creams That Remove Skin Tags?
There currently are no ointments or lotions on the market that have gotten the thumbs up from the Food and Drug Administration to treat skin tags. If you’re ready to have a troublesome skin tag removed, you’ll need to turn to your dermatologist for treatment.
Skin Tags and Skin Safety
Any growth on the surface of your skin, whether it be a skin tag, a sunspot, or some other type of lesion, should be examined by a doctor. Even though a growth may be completely innocuous at the moment, it could become cancerous down the road. Plus, some skin cancers occasionally take on the appearance of a skin tag, so it’s a good idea to have a dermatologist properly diagnose any growths. That way, you know what you’re dealing with.
How Do Skin Tags Differ From Warts?
Skin tags and warts differ in appearance. Skin tags are usually soft and small, usually no more than 2 millimeters in size. They protrude slightly from the body and hang from a thin pillar of skin. They are not contagious, so if you accidentally come into contact with a skin tag on someone else’s body, you are not at heightened risk of developing one yourself. Warts, on the other hand, are highly contagious. Warts tend to feel rougher to the touch, and they usually have an irregular shape and surface.
Do I Need to Monitor My Skin Tags?
You should pay attention to your existing skin tags and monitor them for any changes in much the same way as you monitor the moles on your body. If you have a skin tag that appears to be getting bigger or spreading, or if your skin tag is bleeding or feels rough, notify your dermatologist.
Who Will Oversee My Treatment?
Your treatment will be overseen by Dr. Tracy Prizant, a Pittsburgh native. Dr. Prizant attended the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. After an Internal Medicine internship at UCLA, she returned home to complete her Dermatology residency at The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Jessica Kaylor, a licensed Physicians Assistant, also provides treatments. Jessica earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, completed premedical studies at Georgetown University, and earned her Master of Medical Science from Wake Forest School of Medicine.
What Other Types of Skin Lesions Are Non-Cancerous?
In addition to skin tags, freckles, moles, benign lentigines, and seborrheic keratoses are all considered both common and non-cancerous. Benign lentigines, although they appear similar to melanoma, are non-cancerous and are not anything to worry about. Seborrheic keratoses are non-cancerous skin growths that can appear black, brown, or tan. Like skin tags, seborrheic keratoses are unsightly but pose no medical concern.
How Can a Dermatologist Help?
If you have an established relationship with a dermatologist, we can keep tabs on the development of your skin tags over time and can offer skin tag removal treatments when you are ready to get rid of them. A good dermatologist can offer other skincare treatments and services as well, including annual skin cancer screenings, acne and scar treatments, and resources that help you navigate aesthetic concerns. Your dermatologist is your partner when it comes to maintaining clear, healthy skin, particularly as your body ages.
The aging process doesn’t have to involve putting up with skin tags. If you’re ready to say goodbye to those growths and get your healthy skin back, call Prizant Dermatology in Pittsburgh, PA and ask about skin tag removal. Our full service medical and surgical dermatology practice offers high-quality, individualized treatments that help our patients put their best face forward.