What’s The Deal With Skin Tags—Seriously?

Move over pimples, moles and warts, there’s a new skin nuisance in town—and it affects nearly 30% of Americans. That’s right, we’re talking about skin tags. The surprisingly annoying skin growths that seem to always be in the wrong place (like under your bra strap) at the wrong time (during swimsuit season).

Despite the fact that they’re super common, most of us don’t know a whole lot about these mysterious little buggers—besides the fact that they’re irritating. For instance, are they contagious? Can they ever be cancerous? Is it safe to remove them at home? The answers to all of these questions—and more—can be found below.

What are they?

Skin tags, also known as acrochordons or fibroepithelial polyps, are nothing more than small, fleshy growths that have the appearance of hanging skin (i.e. they’re longer than they are wide).

They’re typically flesh colored, but they can look brownish or pinkish as well. Once they’re fully formed—usually only millimeters wide and up to a half-inch in length—they won’t continue growing.

What causes them?

For the most part, skin tags form as a result of friction on the skin. That’s why the most likely places see them—the neck, the groin, the armpits, the breasts and the eyelids—all have folds, which cause skin-on-skin friction.

In some cases, being overweight, having diabetes, a family history of skin tags, being pregnant, having a thyroid condition or wearing tight clothing, can all make them more likely.

Do they spread?

One skin tag has nothing to do with another—whether it’s on you or someone else. Skin tags are not contagious and cannot be spread to other places on your body. If you have multiple skin tags that develop, choosing to remove one will not directly cause another one to form.

Are they painful?

There’s a chance you have a skin tag growing right now and you don’t even know it. That’s because they don’t usually have any sensation and don’t cause noticeable discomfort, unless they’re in a high-friction area. For instance, if it is under a bra strap, or under a necklace, this could cause some irritation, pain or in some cases, bleeding.

Can you remove them?

While there’s no shortage of at-home skin tag removal options, like using dental floss (ouch!), it’s not recommended to do this on your own. Because skin tags are attached to stalks beneath the surface of your skin, it may be fairly painful or cause bleeding when they’re removed.

So don’t bother with that mess. Instead, just work with a healthcare expert to easily remove them with cryosurgery, electrosurgery or snip excision—all of which are common, minor procedures. And the even better news, there should be no scar after the skin tag is gone (yippee!).

How do you know if it’s actually a skin tag?

As you probably know, skin conditions come in all shapes and sizes. Some may be easier to identify than others. So while you may think that new growth of yours is most definitely a skin tag, there’s a chance it could be something else. Things like moles, seborrheic keratosis and common warts can all look surprisingly similar.

That’s why Gwinnett Medical Group Primary Care is prepared to help. With knowledgeable experts, an extensive range of servicesand resources, and convenient locations, you can receive customized care for all of your skin health needs and more.

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