Skin Tags are very common benign lesions.
What are the clinical features?
The hallmark of a skin tag is a soft skin-coloured growth on a small, thin stalk which gives the appearance that it is ‘hanging off’ the skin.
They are usually 2 to 5mm in size but may be much larger. Skin tags tend to be found in skin folds around the neck, under-arms, groin and breasts.
Skin tags may look very similar to three other harmless lesions:
Gallery of Skin Tags
What is the significance?
Skin tags part of getting older. A few small skin tags generally go unnoticed although multiple skin tags can be a cosmetic concern.
A typical skin tag is easy to spot. However, a skin tag can be confused a seborrhoeic keratosis, solitary neurofibroma or pedunculated mole. Thankfully, all of these alternate diagnoses are harmless so it doesn’t matter.
Larger skin tags may certainly be a nuisance if they catch on clothing – most likely in the groin, upper thighs, upper arms, or near the bra or bra strap. Traumatised skin tags may bleed.
Usually no treatment is wanted or required.
Treament can include:
- Electrocautery – no anaesthetic is required for the tiny ones.
- Cryotherapy (freezing) – for smaller ones. May cause loss of skin pigment.
- Surgical excision with local anaesthetic – shave excision with or without cautery, or excision of very large ones by a formal excision with sutures.
A large number of smaller skin tags may be treated in one session with shave excision, crotherapy, cautery or a combination of these.
Can I remove a skin tag myself?
A very small skin tag with a very narrow base may be tied off at the base with dental floss and it will fall off within a few days. This isn’t all that practical because:
- They may be tied and not fall off because the stalk is too wide
- Most people who treat their own skin tags get lots of them – and many will be too big for this treatment to work
When you do this treatment, it’s best to be directed by your doctor as to whether it’s a sensible option. It’s quite common to see people who’ve previously had a go.
Assuming it is a skin tag then the worst that can happen is that the lesion doesn’t fall off and becomes inflamed, painful and/or infected – this is unlikely with very small ones on a very narrow stalk/neck. It’s just a question of judgment.