What Causes Skin Tags? Symptoms and Treatment
What causes skin tag? A skin tag is a growth that appears on the surface of the skin. They are also called soft fibromas or acrochordons, and they appear as bumps on the skin. Most skin tags appear in areas of the body where there are frequent folds in the skin, including:
Tags on the skin are harmless and rarely cause discomfort. When clothing or jewelry rubs against them, they can become irritated or itchy. Frequent friction can lead to skin tags bleeding or falling off.
In over half of the population, skin tags are a concern. As people age, they become more familiar, and they tend to occur more frequently in people with a family history of skin tags. Those with metabolic disorders, such as obesity and diabetes, are also more likely to develop skin tags.
The biology of skin tags
The prevalence of skin tags is widespread among people of all ages. The growth can reach up to five centimeters in length and start no larger than a pinhead. The color of some skin tags can vary, whereas others grow dark brown or black in color.
Each tag is made up of a combination of skin cells, nerve cells, and fat cells. A lot of growths have stalks that stick out from the skin, causing the tag to get snagged in clothing, which can be painful.
In areas where you frequently shave, such as your legs or face, skin tags can get in the way or accidentally get cut off, resulting in bleeding.
Why do you have those skin tags in the first place?
Skin tags are normal in both men and women. However, the growths are more common in women as they get older and their hormone levels fluctuate, especially during pregnancy and menopause.
Several underlying medical conditions can increase your chances of developing skin tags at some point besides friction. The conditions include:
- Crohn’s disease
- High blood pressure
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
There are many factors that can cause skin tags to grow. There are several different technologies that can be used to remove tags that become bothersome or affect how you feel about your skin.
Causes of skin tags on the neck
There are a few theories about how skin tags form, but doctors do not know what causes them.
Lack of elastic tissue in the skin
As we age, our skin loses its elasticity. A skin’s texture changes less as it ages because collagen levels decrease and elastic fibers decrease. The lack of elasticity could cause skin tags in localized areas where the skin folds frequently, such as the neck.
During pregnancy, skin tags can form on the face, neck, chest, and under the breasts. Following delivery, most skin tags disappear by themselves. In this case, skin tags could be caused by high levels of estrogen and progesterone affecting the integrity of the skin.
The insulin growth factor (IGF-1) levels and insulin growth factor receptors of people who develop skin tags are higher in those who develop them. The skin contains these receptors that may play an important role in the development of skin tags on the neck.
People with skin tags produce more of the hormone epidermal growth factor and its receptors, which control skin growth. It is still unclear how an excess of these growth factors leads to the development of skin tags.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is most commonly associated with warts, but research suggests it may also be responsible for skin tags. There have been several studies detecting HPV in biopsies of skin tags. According to research, HPV infection could play a role in skin tags, as it has been detected in up to 88% of specimens.
Surgery-free skin tag removal
A skin tag shouldn’t be removed unless it interferes with shaving or causes pain when pinched by your necklace or clothing.
Dr.Hitchins offers several in-office procedures to quickly remove skin tags. Skin tag removal should always be handled by a professional, as doing it yourself at home could result in uncontrolled bleeding or infection.
If you want to stop the blood flow to your skin tag, tie a thin string or piece of dental floss tightly around the stalk. Although this method destroys skin tags effectively, it takes time for them to shrink away and fall off. Schedule an appointment with the Dermatology Center of Northwest Houston if you would like to see more immediate results.
In order to remove the excess skin, Dr.Hitchins uses specific technology depending on the type of skin and the location of the tag. Using liquid nitrogen to freeze a skin tag is a quick, painless method of removing the growth.
In addition, you may be a good candidate for skin tag removal involving a technology that burns the tag and seals off the skin to prevent bleeding.
Surgical removal of skin tags may be necessary in many cases. To keep the procedure pain-free, Dr.Hitchins uses local anesthetics in the office to perform minimally invasive procedures.
Skin tags on the neck: when to see a doctor
The most common reason for removing neck skin tags is cosmetic. It is possible for neck skin tags to become infected when they become irritated. Skin tags that are hefty and getting caught on jewelry or clothing may need to be removed.
The most common type of skin tag is benign. The first thing you should do is to make an appointment with your doctor if you notice that one has changed size, color, or become painful.
Treatments for skin tags on the neck
The following three options are available to doctors for removing skin tags from the neck:
By freezing skin growths, cryotherapy or cryosurgery removes them. The skin tag is frozen with liquid nitrogen by your doctor, after which it naturally falls off. Your doctor may repeat the procedure several times until the tag is fully removed.
There is a thin stalk on the neck that attaches skin tags to the body. In order to remove the tag, a doctor can use a pair of sterilized scissors to cut through the stalk. In general, this method is best for small tags and causes little pain, though it may cause a small amount of bleeding.
Electrocautery removes skin tags by burning them. Electric current is transmitted by the doctor, causing the fibroma to blaze and fall off. During this process, the tag is cauterized, preventing bleeding.