Friday, July 13, 2007

Skin Tags

Updated 3/2017-- photos and all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active.

Acrochordons, aka skin tags, are small benign skin tumors that form primarily in areas where the skin forms creases, such as the neck, armpits, and groin. They also occur on the face, usually on the eyelids. They range in size from rice to golf ball size. The surface of skin tags may be smooth or irregular in appearance. Most often they are raised from the surface of the skin on a fleshy stalk called a peduncle. This stalk is why skin tags are also called pedunculated papillomas. Microscopically, a skin tag consists of a fibrovascular core (a small artery and vein in the stalk of skin) and sometimes some fat cells covered by an unremarkable epidermis.

Skin tags are harmless. Sometimes they are irritated by clothing or jewelry and can interfere with shaving and other routine grooming. It is not entirely known as to why or how skin tags form, but there are correlations with age and obesity. They are more common in people with diabetes and in pregnant women. It is estimated that by age 70, up to 59 percent of people have them. A genetic component (causation) is thought to exist.

Your doctor can remove a skin tag by cutting it off with a scalpel or scissors, with cryotherapy (freezing it off), or with electrosurgery (burning it off with an electric current). If the skin tag is small and has a thin (think thread) stalk (and the patient is not on a blood thinner--coumadin, etc), then the simplest thing to do is to use small curved scissors and snip (no local necessary--a needle or a quick snip) next to the skin. If the stalk is thick (think twine or yarn), then it will have more of a blood supply and will need to be cauterized (electrosurgery) or excised and closed with a stitch. These need local anesthesia. A simple band-aid or antibiotic ointment is all that is usually needed for a dressing. Then simple good hygiene for care, as you would a bug bite or scratch at home.


Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

I take off a fair number of these from the vulva, usually when they are near the panty line and bothersome that way.

denverdoc said...

I always associate skin tags with aging, and hyfercate the little suckers on my own neck if they appear.

Pedunculated papillomas huh? Now I've got a fancy tag for tags.