Do you have skin tags on your skin? It is the skin-colored growth that looks like a soft balloon suspended on a slim stalk. In most cases, abnormal skin growths have a small size. The growths cause you no harm. So, may not experience pain or discomfort due to the development of the tags. You can have one or hundreds of tags on your skin. Both men and women can observe the development of such abnormal growth. It is common among people who have excess body weight. Want to know more about the abnormal growth? Then, read ahead to know the interesting facts about the skin problem and effective ways to handle them.
What Are Skin Tags?
In medical terms, the condition is known as acrochordon. The growth is noncancerous (benign) and painless. It can develop as a small bump (approximately the size of a flattened pinhead) and can grow in size. In most cases, the size of the growth measures around 2mm to 5mm in diameter (approximately the size of 1/3rd or 1/2nd of the size of a pencil eraser). Some people can observe bigger growth that can vary from 1 cm in diameter to 5 cm in diameter. The abnormal growth is referred to as soft fibromas, cutaneous papilloma, or fibroepithelial polyp. It is also referred to as skin tabs.
It differs from other conditions like moles, warts. Skin tags are a mix of blood vessels and collagen. The growth is surrounded by another layer of skin on the outside. It has a smooth or irregular appearance. The growth differs from others as it attaches to your skin by a narrow, short stalk, also known as a peduncle. It appears mostly in areas like armpits and neck. The other common areas for development of tags include your eyelids, buttock folds, groin folds, and upper chest (in particular, under female breasts). You can observe the development of such abnormal skin growth in areas where your skin rubs against skin or clothing.
Causes Of Skin Tags
The exact reason for the development of soft fibromas remains unclear. But, you can observe its presence in skin folds. So, doctors consider that friction plays an important role in its development. Some come factors leading to the development of soft fibromas are:
It is the lifestyle condition occurring when a person weighs more than the normal weight. The excess weight can cause skin rubbing against itself. It can cause friction leading to the development of soft fibromas. It is mostly observed in places like under arms, along the neck area where your neck jewelry rest and rubs against the chest, or between the thighs.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Some studies indicate a connection between human papillomavirus and soft fibromas. According to a study conducted in 2008, the HPV plays an import role in the development of such abnormal growths. The analysis of skin tags from the different sites of the body showed the presence of HPV DNA in more than 50% of the test subjects. Therefore, the low-risk forms of HPV can trigger the growth of soft fibromas.
People who are diabetic face more risk of developing a skin problem. It is because of insulin resistance. The condition can prevent your body from absorbing glucose effectively. So, the sugar levels in your blood can increase leading to type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. Insulin resistance can lead to the development of multiple skin tags. People with high blood sugar levels can have a high body mass index and high triglycerides.
People with a family history of such tags can face a high risk of developing the problem. It can run in the family. So, if one or more person in your family develops soft fibromas, then you face the high chances of experiencing the problem.
Women who are pregnant can develop soft fibromas. It is a common side effect of pregnancy. Several factors associated with pregnancy can trigger such growths. When a woman becomes pregnant, the body has a general state of growth. So, you can observe the growth of all kinds of skin lesions. The state of growth along with the increase in body weight can lead to the development of tags. The pregnancy hormones and possible gestational diabetes can also contribute to the problem.
Pregnant women tend to experience normal, physiological changes during the period. So, they can grow all kinds of things on their skin. For example, the moles on the abdomen can change or the soft fibromas can develop or grow in size. The increased friction due to rubbing in areas in underarms, inner thighs, etc. can also cause the development of soft fibromas.
In some rare cases, the tags can develop due to the endocrine problem or hormonal imbalance in your body.
Abnormal skin growth is not contagious. So, you may not develop it while coming in contact with a person who has skin tags. But, it can run in the family. Multiple family members can experience the condition.
Risk Factors Associated With Skin Tags
Anyone can develop abnormal skin growth. But, some people experience more risk of developing the problem compared to others. The factors putting you at risk of the specific skin problem are:
- People who weight more than normal (>BMI)
- Women who are pregnant
- Individuals with family members who suffer from the soft fibroma
- People suffering from insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes
- Individuals affected by HPV
Soft fibroma does not escalate to skin cancer. The skin disorder can result in irritation and discomfort when it rubs with clothing, jewelry or skin. If you have abnormal skin growth, you need to maintain caution while shaving. Accidental shaving can lead to pain, profuse bleeding, and high risk of infection. Therefore, you need to maintain caution when you suffer from the problem.
Identifying Skin Tags
You can identify skin tags by checking them visually. The soft fibromas tend to have flesh-color and have a soft texture. The small stalk by which the growth hangs is the main difference between the tags and other skin growths like a mole. The small stalk is known as a peduncle. In most cases, the growths have a small size (two millimeters in size to several centimeters). It has a round and smooth shape. At times, the soft fibromas have an asymmetrical and wrinkly appearance. You can observe that they look grains of rice hanging by a thread. The skin tags can have a dark color due to hyperpigmentation. It can also turn black due to lack of blood supply when it becomes twisted and the blood supply cuts off.
Complications Due To Skin Tags
The skin tags cause you no pain or discomfort in most cases. But, the location of the abnormal skin growth can lead to irritation. So, when the tiny bumps cause signs when repeatedly rubbed. It mostly occurs when the soft fibromas develop by the color or in the groin. In most cases, people opt to remove the growths due to cosmetic reasons. In some cases, you can suffer from the following complications due to abnormal skin growth:
- Redness due to bleeding (hemorrhage)
- Twisting of skin tags causing it to become black
- Death of the skin tissue (also known as necrosis)
In such cases, you need to contact your doctor to remove the growth. At times, your clothes, jewelry, seat belts or pets can snag the growth. It results in severe pain and discomfort. But, growth is benign in nature. It does not develop into cancerous cells.
Diagnosis Of Skin Tags
When you find such growth on your skin, you need medical advice. Since the problem resembles a wart, mole or other types of harmless growth, a professional diagnosis can only establish the problem conclusively. Therefore, you need to see a dermatologist or general physician to detect the issue. If you have soft fibromas close to the eyes, then consulting an ophthalmologist can offer better results. As some soft fibroma have the presence of malignant cells, you need to consult a doctor as early as possible. It will eliminate any life-threatening complications. So, the diagnostic techniques used to detect the problem are:
In the majority of the cases, your doctor can diagnose the condition by visual inspection of the skin. The soft fibromas have a specific appearance. So, the doctor checks for the characteristics to confirm the diagnosis.
At times, the visual inspection alone does not help determine the problem conclusively. The appearance of the growth can put confusion in the minds of your doctor. It is because certain soft fibromas can resemble other skin conditions like nevi, seborrheic keratosis, and warts. So, your doctor suggests a biopsy, the microscopic analysis of the sample of the mole can rule out other conditions. The biopsy can also rule out a malignant presence. Therefore, your doctor extracts abnormal growth from your skin and sends it to the lab for further analysis. Based on the test results, your doctor takes further action.
Removing Skin Tags
In normal cases, the abnormal growth may not cause any discomfort. But, the location of the soft fibromas can cause it to rub against the clothes or skin folds frequently. In such cases, the growths can become pink. The irritation can lead to discomfort. Some people can experience the mole rotating at the base. It is a rare occurrence leading to cutting off blood supply to the skin tag. It can result in the soft fibromas to appear discolored (black/red). Some people can observe the spontaneous falling of the tags without any pain or discomfort. It occurs due to the interruption of flow to the tag. When you experience problems, you need to talk to your doctor about removing them from your skin. Your doctor can adopt the following techniques to remove the soft fibromas from your skin:
Cryotherapy is also known as cold therapy. As the name suggests, it uses low temperature to treat a wide variety of tissue lesions. The extremely low temperature can destroy diseased or abnormal tissue. It is common in treating different skin conditions. So, your doctor can freeze the abnormal skin growth with liquid nitrogen. Three to six hours after applying nitrogen, a blister forms over the abnormal growth and the surrounding skin. It turns black or dark purple. After two to three days, the blister flattens. Finally, it completely falls off within two to three weeks.
Your doctor can remove the soft fibromas surgically using a scalpel or scissors. To remove it surgically, the doctor may not use an anesthetic. But, the doctor can apply lidocaine or anesthetic cream to ease the pain. It is mostly selected for large or multiple skin tags removal.
The procedure uses heat to burn off the soft fibromas at its base. High-frequency electrical energy can burn soft fibromas without excess bleeding. So, you can get rid of skin growth without losing too much blood.
It is the technique of burning the body part to close off a part of it or remove it completely. The procedure destroys the tissue to prevent bleeding and subsequent damage. Your doctor can adopt the method to remove the undesired growth. During the process, the skin tag is burned off with a cautery. It results in the falling off the undesired growth from your skin surface. The method can seal the wound, which prevents bleeding and infection.
It differs from electrosurgery as it uses electrical current to heat a metal wire first. Then, it is applied to the target tissue to burn the specific area. Electrosurgery passes the current directly through the tissue while cauterization applies the current directly on the targeted area.
During the process, your doctor ties the bottom of the soft fibroma with a surgical thread. It is to cut off the blood flow to the abnormal growth. After a few weeks, the abnormal growth dies and fall off from the skin surface.
Removing the abnormal growth may not offer permanent relief. At times, growth can come back. You can also observe the development of new soft fibromas on other skin surfaces. Most people opt for the removal of the abnormal skin for cosmetic reason. But, in most cases, new growth can pop up frequently in the same areas.
Home Remedies For Skin Tags
Several websites suggest home remedies for abnormal skin growth. Applying the following items weakens the root of soft fibromas including:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Tea tree oil
- Lemon juice
But, no scientific evidence supports the claims of the remedies suggested. So, it may not offer you any relief. It is not a good idea to remove the soft fibromas on your own. Some websites suggest DIY instructions to remove skin tags. Applying a chemical peel or tying them off the abnormal growth with string will not remove it without any complications. Even when you remove the abnormal growth in a sterile environment by medical professionals may cause bleeding, infections, or burns. So, it is ideal to get a doctor’s assistance to remove skin growth without any complication.
Preventive Measures To Avoid Skin Tags
It is impossible to prevent skin tags completely. But, it is possible to reduce the odds of experiencing a skin problem. Soft fibromas are permanent and need medical assistance to remove it completely. You have no medication to eliminate the problem. So, you can adopt the following steps to reduce them and prevent its growth.
Control Your Weight
Obesity can increase your risk of suffering from abnormal skin growth. Therefore, try to lose weight. When you drop down to a healthier size, it reduces the risk of developing soft fibromas. Remember, losing weight will never eliminate the existing abnormal skin growth. But, it will certainly reduce your chances of developing more in the future.
You can work with your doctor as well as a dietitian to plan an ideal meal that will reduce the risk of developing the problem. Try to include a diet low in calories and saturated fat. It reduces your chance of accumulating fat under your skin.
Include Physical Activity
Including physical activity in your life will keep you fit. You need to include physical exercise of medium or high intensity to keep your weight under control. Exercise at least thirty minutes a day for at least five days a week to reduce your risk of developing soft fibromas.
The soft fibromas can develop on the skin folds. So, you need to keep the skin folds dry to avoid any friction. So, pat the skin completely dry after every shower. Apply talcum powder or baby powder to the skin folds. So, applying powder on areas like your underarms can trap moisture and keep the area dry.
Avoid Skin Irritation
Try to avoid skin irritation by choosing clothes that allow air circulation. Always opt for breathable fabrics like cotton that prevent moisture trapping. Minimize the use of nylon or spandex as they can cause skin irritation. Avoid jewelry that can trigger allergy or irritation (for example nickel allergy).
Developing skin tags on your skin is not a dangerous condition. It does not cause any life-altering complications. So, in the majority of the cases, it never causes you any problem. You can leave them alone if it causes you no bother. But, the problem can create a nuisance. The presence of the soft fibromas on visible parts of the body can embarrass you. In most of the cases, abnormal skin growth occurs in more places and number. So, you can approach your doctor to remove the stubborn growth. Never try to remove it at home as it can lead to infection or bleeding. You need medical assistance to deal with the problem. Your healthcare professional can diagnose the issue and rule out a serious issue like cancer. But, it can regrow again. So, always get your doctor’s advice to deal with the issue effectively.
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