Skin tags (also called acrochordons or papillomas) are benign but annoying skin growth. No one really knows what causes them. Skin tags tend to appear in midlife, and may be an inherited condition. Some women develop skin tags during pregnancy. Although they are sometimes caused papillomas, skin tags aren't caused by a papillomavirus, as warts are. The term papilloma describes the appearance of the growths, not the cause. Skin tags are usually very small, skin-colored
growths commonly found on the neck, arms, and trunk. They may appear elsewhere on the body, as well. Sometimes a small stalk connects the main part of the growth to the skin
Skin tags are harmless growths. They are often found in the skin folds on the neck, under the arms, under the breasts, or in the groin. They begin as small fleshy brown spots and may grow a small stalk. Skin tags never turn into skin cancer. The tendency to develop skin tags appears to be inherited (genetic). A skin tag can be removed if it becomes irritated, bleeds, or causes embarrassment.
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. Some skin tags are actually seborrhoeic keratoses, viral warts or molluscum contagiosum.
Skin tags at first may appear as tiny soft bumps on the skin. Over time, they grow into a flesh-colored piece of skin attached to the skin surface by a stalk. It's easy to move or wiggle skins tags back and forth. They are painless, although they can become irritated if they are rubbed a lot. If a skin tag is twisted on its stalk, a blood clot can develop within it and the skin tag may become painful.
Doctors can recognize skin tags easily by examining the skin. For skin tags with a characteristic appearance (soft, easily moveable, flesh-colored or slightly darker and usually attached to the skin surface by a stalk), a biopsy is unnecessary. If you notice that a skin tag doesn't move, is a different color than surrounding skin, is multicolored or has raw or bleeding areas, ask your doctor to examine it.
Skin tags that are located on the face or another visible area of the body, and growths that become irritated from contact with clothing can be removed easily. The simplest treatment is surgical removal, usually with scissors, to snip the skin tag off. This should be done by your healthcare practitioner, and not attempted at home. Another removal method is the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the growth. Whatever treatment is used, remember that even if all skin tags are removed, new ones may appear. There is no known way to prevent the formation of skin tags.