What is a skin tag?

Skin tags are quite common and often appear after middle age. They are generally harmless, small, flesh-coloured, soft pieces of hanging skin that can occur on the body. Occasionally they may appear slightly brownish in colour and a tiny stalk may be noticeable.

Tags may just appear as a bump at first. They usually remain between 2mm and 1cm in size. The larger tags may grow to around 5cm. They consist of fibres, nerve cells, fat cells and ducts.

These small hanging pieces of skin are not dangerous and not cancerous, but they can cause some irritation if they rub on clothing or jewellery. Some people may feel self-conscious about their appearance, especially when the tags are particularly noticeable.

Why do they appear?

It has been thought that tags develop when collagen (a protein found in skin) and blood vessels get caught inside a thicker piece of skin. Although the exact cause is still not entirely clear, there are some factors which can increase the risk of developing skin tags.

Tags are more common in people who are overweight or obese, those with diabetes, and people with a sex steroid imbalance affecting the levels of oestrogen and progesterone. They can occur more frequently during pregnancy and there also appears to be a heredity risk factor involved.

Studies have also linked the presence of tags to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Current research is also examining links between the presence of tags and early diagnosis of insulin resistance, inflammation in the body and even some cardiac diseases.

Where do they appear?

Tags often appear in the folds and creases of skin, so they are quite common under the breasts, armpits and groin. They can also develop on the chest, neck and eyelids.

How can i get rid of them?

Although tags are generally painless and harmless, they can rub on clothing. Sometimes they can get caught by a shaver or jewellery. However, many people prefer to have them removed for cosmetic reasons.

A dermatologist or trained skin specialist can carry out surgical removal of tags using a variety of methods. These include excision (cutting off the tag), ligation (cutting off the blood supply to the tag), cryosurgery (freezing the tag off with liquid nitrogen) and cauterisation (burning the tag off using electrolysis). When the tag is close to the eye, an eye surgeon or ophthalmologist should carry out the procedure.

For more information, we invite you to a FREE consultation with our facial aesthetics specialist.




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