Common skin tags aren't dangerous, just unsightly
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
1/23/13 at 1:55 AM
Dear Doctor K: I have skin tags under my armpits. Are they dangerous? How can I remove them? What can I do to keep them from coming back?
Dear Reader: Skin tags are common; about a quarter of all people develop them.
A skin tag is a soft, skin-colored growth. Skin tags typically appear as people age. A skin tag at first may appear as a tiny, soft bump on the skin. Over time, it grows into a flesh-colored piece of skin that hangs from the surface of the skin on a thin piece of tissue called a stalk. It's easy to move or wiggle a skin tag back and forth.
Skin tags probably develop in response to irritation. That's why they appear most often in skin folds of the neck, armpits, torso, beneath the breasts or in the groin region - areas where the skin tends to get irritated. These areas often generate multiple skin tags during a lifetime. Get rid of one, and a new one may start next year.
A tendency to develop skin tags may run in families. They often develop after weight gain or pregnancy. There is no way to prevent them.
A skin tag is painless. However, it can become irritated if it is rubbed a lot or if it is twisted on its stalk. That irritation is probably the most common reason that people want them removed.
Doctors usually remove skin tags with sharp scissors or a sharp blade. Less commonly, doctors remove them by freezing or burning them off at the stalk. Bleeding can be stopped with a chemical (aluminum chloride) or electric (cauterizing) treatment.
Please understand that not every bump on the skin is just a skin tag. If you notice that a skin growth is too firm to be wiggled easily, is a different color than surrounding skin, is multicolored, or has raw or bleeding areas, ask your doctor to examine it.
Because skin tags are only a cosmetic concern, most health insurance plans won't pay for their removal. But if you find them unsightly, you do have options to have them taken off.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106