What are skin tags?
Skin tags are benign skin tumors that are commonly located on the upper eyelid, neck, armpits, under the breasts, and inguinal region. The appearance of skin tags has been evidenced in men and women with a certain tendency towards the female sex during the fourth and fifth decade of life.
What are the causes of skin tags?
Although they have been carefully studied, the cause of the origin of skin tags is unknown. Certain studies have shown how friction and rubbing of the skin with objects or clothing increase the predisposition to suffer from skin tags.
Risk factors include:
- Overweight and obesity.
- High blood pressure.
- Diabetes or insulin resistance.
- Alterations in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.
- Pregnancy, due to an increase in the secretion of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone).
Diseases associated with skin tags and that cause a risk factor in their appearance have not yet been fully demonstrated and the need for a greater number of scientific studies to determine the relationship has been described.
What do skin tags look like?
They can be clinically differentiated by being:
- Soft fibromas, when they are small and multiple, are called skin tags. They are single or multiple lesions, pedunculated or stalked (similar to the head of a pin) with a soft consistency, wrinkled appearance, and a skin-like or brown color (hyperpigmentation), which are usually located on the neck, armpits, inguinal region, inframammary folds (under the breast) and upper eyelids. They can develop by friction with clothing or by rubbing the skin against the skin.
Those that present as a single lesion are usually large, known in medical practice as molluscum pendulum (MP), can measure 5 cm or more, predominate in the trunk and folds of the body, and sometimes show inflammation and necrosis after trauma and torsion.
- Hard fibromas are dermatofibroma and digital fibroma. Dermatofibroma is usually single lesions located in the lower extremities and thorax. They appear as low-lying, small lesions of approximately 0.5 to 3 cm, yellow-brown (brown) or reddish, with a smooth or rough surface and hard consistency. The appearance of hard fibromas is related to a history of having produced a skin injury weeks or months before caused by insect bites, punctures, or vaccinations.
What do skin tags look like?
Skin tags and warts have been confused and misnamed by the community in the same way, in general, any skin lesion that appears in the form of a lump or pedunculated is awarded the name of "wart" creating confusion in the general population.
Therefore, the term wart is reserved exclusively to define those lesions caused by the HPV disease (human papillomavirus). Depending on their location and their clinical form, different variants of warts can be distinguished, such as plantar warts or papillomas, genital warts or condylomata acuminata, flat warts, vulgar warts, and filiform warts. The most important difference between warts is that they appear on the skin as a manifestation of a viral infection, therefore they are contagious and can spread easily.
Only filiform warts bear some resemblance to skin tags and it is the responsibility of the doctor to carry out a series of diagnostic methods to guide the patient to correct treatment.
Can skin tags become malignant skin lesions?
No, the skin tag is a benign growth of the skin and the evolution can be satisfactory, fall alone or have moderate growth. They can cause discomfort due to rubbing or twisting and this can be a reason to be examined and removed by a specialist.
They must be correctly diagnosed by a doctor or dermatologist since they can be similar to other skin growths of another nature, such as nevi (moles) or soft tissue tumors that will require other studies to determine what therapeutic behavior should be taken by the attending physician.
Similarly, those skin lesions that suffer some trauma or bleeding, with color changes (brown, red, black, or pink), accelerated growth, and irregular borders should be evaluated and possibly biopsied to rule out a malignant lesion such as skin cancer.
Treatment for skin tags
Skin tags do not have any malignant potential and those cases are treated where the patient reports irritation in the area of the lesion, symptomatic or for reasons of discomfort with the aesthetics of the skin.
The management and treatment of the lesion should be consulted with a specialist or dermatologist to guarantee the safest and most effective therapeutic option depending on the diagnosis.
Surgical treatments for skin tags
Skin tags can be removed with any destructive method that is not harmful to the surrounding tissue, which must be a surgical procedure performed exclusively by a doctor or dermatologist. Surgery, electrocoagulation, laser therapy, or cryosurgery are good therapeutic options.
It is important to remember again that they are not warts, and that they should not be treated with the classic anti-wart liquids sold in pharmacies or other popular remedies based on caustics or irritants.
In our center, the application of liquid nitrogen is performed with a device called Cryopen, a cryosurgery device that provides greater precision to remove lesions more comfortably, without the need for anesthesia or post-operative cures.
The liquid nitrogen administered has a very low temperature, being released locally and controlled on the lesion for a few seconds, providing a painless freezing power and respecting the healthy surrounding tissue.