Mercy's Dr. Susan Besser Offers Insight on Skin Tags
Dr. Susan Besser, responding to a query from EverydayHealth.com, answered questions concerning “What You Need to Know About Skin Tags.” Dr. Besser is a primary care provider specializing in Family Medicine and sees patients at Mercy Personal Physicians at Overlea.
What exactly is a skin tag?
A skin tag (medically known as an acrochodon) is an outgrowth of normal skin. They literally look like a tag of skin attached by a stalk to the rest of the skin. They are extremely common, occurring in 50% of adults. They tend to occur more as we age.
Where do they normally occur?
Skin tags most commonly occur on the body in areas of friction (where there is lots of rubbing of the skin). Therefore, common sites are the neck, under the arms, under the breasts, and in the groin.
Who is prone to develop skin tags?
Obese people and diabetics are prone to skin tages as are some patients with Crohn’s disease (an inflammatory bowel disease). There are also inherited conditions that may include skin tags
At what point in life do skin tags generally begin to occur?
They are more common as we age, but can also manifest in the second trimester of pregnancy. Frequently the skin tags of pregnancy go away on their own after the pregnancy is completed.
Are there any risk of complications from skin tags?
The only real complication is if they get caught in clothing or jewelry. That can be painful and can cause them to bleed if they get twisted on their stalks.
What's the removal procedure for skin tags?
There are several methods of removal- clip them with sharp scissors; freeze them with liquid nitrogen; or burn them off with heat/cautery.
Can you just leave skin tags in place?
Yes, they are not dangerous. The risks are that they might get caught on jewelry or clothing.
Will skin tags continue to grow?
They might but they do not get very large. If they get large, change color, become infected or ulcerated, you need to see your doctor. In those cases, it may not be a simple skin tag and further evaluation is needed.
What are the risk factors for skin tags?
There are a few other skin conditions that mimic skin tags. The most common being neurofibromas and a pedunculated dermal nevus (mole). Most neurofibromas are also benign skin lesions that require no treatment. On the other hand, any nevus has a potential for becoming a skin cancer, so it needs evaluation.
Susan L. Besser MD, MBA, FAAFP, CIME, Diplomate American Board of Obesity Medicine, Mercy Personal Physicians at Overlea
Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at www.mdmercy.com, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.