A skin tag is a benign skin growth that is raised above the surface of normal skin and gives the appearance of hanging from the skin. They may be skin-colored, brown, or flesh-colored. A tag is medically termed acrochordon. Tags are also called barnacles or skin tabs. Skin tags are found on the base of the neck, upper eyelids, groin folds, buttock folds, under the arms, or under the breasts.
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As it is benign, a skin tag does not cause health disorders. A person can have up to 100 tags or just a few, depending on his weight, hereditary factors, or for undetermined reasons. They are usually flat, smooth, and small (about 3mm in diameter). There are exceptions when the tags are quite big, 10 to 50mm in diameter.
An increase in weight increases the likelihood of tags. Women of normal weight, but with large breasts have more chances of developing tags. These tags are found under the breasts. Sometimes tags fall off by themselves by mere friction while at other times they need to be removed because of their unsightly position and appearance.
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What causes skin tags
There are no definite causes for the appearance of skin tags, but the likelihood of their presence is seen to increase
- During pregnancy
- Chaffing of the skin
- When there is a resistance to insulin
- Hereditary factors
- Human papilloma virus (virus that causes warts)
Problems caused by tags
- Skin tags are neither painful nor cause itching or any kind of discomfort
- At times they may appear unsightly and would need removal to improve the appearance
- However, if a tag is found at the base of the neck, you may feel a certain degree of discomfort because of the constant rubbing of the collar against the tag
- Belts and jewelry can also cause discomfort in regions where tags are found
- Tags may bleed and need to be removed in such circumstances
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Treatment and removal
A significant fact to be aware of is that most tags need not be removed as they are quite harmless. Choosing not to have a tag removed is quite all right if the tag does not cause any health complications. In case the tag needs to be removed there are several ways it can be accomplished, either at home or under the supervision of a professional health caregiver. This is how tags are usually removed
- The base of the tag that is narrow is tied around with a thin thread-like dental floss
- The tag is then chilled to a minimum temperature using liquid nitrogen
- The tag is now burned using either a Hyfrecator (a low powered medical instrument used for electro-surgery) or an electric cautery (a medical instrument that burns tissue to destroy it)
- The tag can now be removed with a pair of scissors
- Medical complications can be avoided if the procedure is conducted under the supervision of a health care professional.