Skin tags are common skin growths made up of collagen fibers and blood vessels. The tags often appear as we age, beginning as a soft bump and eventually forming a small, flesh-colored tag suspended by a stalk. The cause of skin tags is unknown and there is no method for preventing them.
Skin tags are also called acrochordons and may be as small as 1 millimeter or as large as 5 centimeters in diameter. They often appear on the face, including the eyelids. Acrochordons may also form in skin folds on the neck or groin, under the breasts, or on the chest. Some individuals have multiple skin tags in various parts of the body.
Most skin tags are harmless, but your dermatologist should examine any lesions that are painful, firm, don’t move freely, bleed, or appear multi-colored. The lesions are usually easily identified, but a skin biopsy can be done to confirm diagnosis in skin tags that appear suspicious.
Skin tags are permanent lesions and do not go away on their own. If the growths present a cosmetic concern, rub or catch on jewelry or clothing, or interfere with shaving, they can be removed. Talk with your dermatologist about removal options for nuisance skin tags. Removal techniques vary depending on the size and location of the lesion.
In-office procedures for removal of skin tags include excision with a scalpel or scissors, cauterization (electrical burning), cryosurgery (chemical freezing) or ligation (tying to cut off blood supply). Each of the methods is effective and scarring is rare.
If you have skin tags you’d like to have removed, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. Removing the tags at home is not a good idea since it can be painful and may lead to infection.