Rub your hand across your neck or chest. If you feel small balls protruding from the skin surface, you probably have skin tags.
Acrochordons, also known as skin tags, are a benign condition of the skin. They appear as flesh-colored pieces of tissue or small bits of skin protruding from the rest of the skin by a thin stalk. About half of the population will develop skin tags at one point in their lives.
Although they may appear troublesome and are actually a type of tumor, skin tags are relatively innocuous and quite common. They have not been found to become cancerous if left untreated.
Skin tags can be as small as a pinpoint or as large as a grape, and form just about anywhere on the body. But they are typically found where there is excessive friction of the skin, whether from rubbing up against other skin or contact from clothing. Therefore the neck, upper chest, underarms, groin folds and under the breasts are common areas to find skin tags.
Acrochordons do not cause any physical problems. They may become itchy or irritated if friction is prolonged. If a tag is caught on clothing or snagged another way, there can be a small amount of pain and slight bleeding. The most common reason for skin tag removal is not due to a physical ailment, but for cosmetic reasons.
Removal of skin tags can take place in a number of ways. Dermatologists and primary care physicians are qualified to remove them. Keep in mind that skin tag removal is often considered a cosmetic procedure and may not be covered by all insurance plans. Removal may consist of cutting off (excision) or freezing the tag (cryosurgery). Depending upon the size, a mild topical anesthetic may be used.
Many skin tag sufferers tend to take removal into their own hands. Stopping blood flow to the tag base (ligation) will cause the tag to fall off on its own. So a small piece of thread tied around the tag can achieve this. Some people just pull them off and face the mild bleeding.
There is no evidence that removing skin tags will enable a greater number to grow in their place. However, skin tags seem to proliferate as a person ages, in obese people, and in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Pregnant women may also be more apt to get skin tags thanks to hormonal changes in the body.
Though they might appear troublesome, skin tags are relatively common and, in most cases, completely harmless.