Skin tags are very common soft harmless lesions that appear to hang off the skin. They are also described as:
- Fibroepithelial polyps
- Soft fibromas
- Pedunculated (this means they are on a stalk)
- Filiform (this means they are thread-like)
Skin tags develop in both men and women as they grow older. They are skin coloured or darker and range in size from 1mm to 5cm. They are most often found in the skin folds (neck, armpits, groin). They tend to be more numerous in obese persons and in those with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Skin tags are made up of loosely arranged collagen fibres and blood vessels surrounded by a thickend or thinned-out epidermis.
What causes skin tags?
It is not known what causes skin tags. However, the following factors may play a role:
- Chaffing and irritation from skin rubbing together
- High levels of growth factors, particularly during pregnancy or in acromegaly (gigantism)
- Insulin resistance (syndrome X)
- Human papilloma virus (wart virus)
How can they be removed?
Skin tags can be removed for cosmetic reasons by the following methods:
- Cryotherapy (freezing)
- Surgical excision (often with scissors)
- Electrosurgery (diathermy)
- Ligation (a suture is tied around the neck of the skin tag)