Skin tags are very common, harmless growths that hang off the skin, and look a bit like warts. Chances are, you’ll know a few people with skin tags that you may never have noticed! Our doctors at London Doctors Clinic are able to identify skin tags, distinguishing them from other skin lesions such as warts.
What Are Skin Tags?
Skin tags are made of loose collagen (protein) fibres and blood vessels overlaid by skin. They are usually very small, and they range in colour from flesh coloured to brown. Skin tags are commonly found on the neck, armpits, around the groin or under the breasts. They most often occur in these types of areas because there is skin on skin, or skin on clothing, rubbing.
Skin tags are made up of loose collagen fibres and blood vessels
Who Gets Skin Tags?
Ultimately, anyone can get skin tags, and males and females are equally prone. Some people have just one skin tag, whereas other people may have multiple skin tags.
However, some people are more at risk than others. You have a greater chance of developing skin tags if you are an older or overweight person. Hormone elevations, such as those seen during pregnancy, may cause an increase in the formation of skin tags, as skin tags are more frequent in pregnant women.
Skin tags are generally not associated with diseases, but it is thought that these tags may be more common in people who have high blood fats and blood sugar, such as in those who suffer from diabetes.
Skin Tag Or Wart: What’s The Difference?
Skin tags and warts look very similar to the untrained eye. Here’s how to tell the difference between them:
• Skin tags are smooth and soft, whereas warts tend to be rougher, and often larger.
• Skin tags have a little stalk, and hang off the skin, while warts are usually flat.
• Skin tags are not contagious but warts spread very easily through skin contact.
Skin Tags: When To Seek Help
Skin tags are totally harmless to your health, but may be unsightly and cause you embarrassment. They can also cause discomfort if they get caught on your clothing or jewellery and pull, which can occasionally cause bleeding.
You should see your GP or private doctor if you notice your skin tag:
- Is itchy
- Is Bleeding
- Looks infected
- Has changed colour (or the surrounding skin has changed colour).
It’s also worth visiting your GP should you notice any new skin tags develop on your skin, especially if these seem unusual for your skin complexion. Your GP will be able to check that the new lesion is definitely a skin tag and not any other kind of skin lesion, such as mole or wart.
Skin Tags Removal
If you think you may have a skin tag, it is possible to have it removed by your GP. But bear in mind that removal of skin tags is considered a cosmetic procedure (as they are not harmful to your health), so you will usually need to pay to have this done privately.
Sometimes, your GP can burn or freeze off the skin tags, just as they would remove warts. At LDC, our GP’s are trained in the use of Histofreeze, a form of Cryotherapy, for the removal of warts and other small lesions.
Alternatively, some skin tags can be removed with a small blade, or burned off using heat (but they are usually frozen or tied off). There is no evidence to suggest that removing skin tags causes more to grow.
However, many GP’s may prefer to refer patients to a dermatologist for a specialist review and removal of skin tags.
At-Home Skin Tag Removal
Some people may recommend at-home skin tag removal techniques, such as tying skin tags with cotton or dental floss, or snipping the base with small sterile scissors. That said, we would not recommend such at-home techniques, for risk of bleeding or infection!
For further medical advice regarding your skin tag, or any other skin lesions, book in for a 15 minute GP consultation at any of our private clinics in London. With eight clinics and future or same day doctor appointments, we are here for you when you’re in search of a “GP near me“!.
By Melissa Dillon