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Skin tags: What are they, and should I worry if I have some?

Do you need to be concerned about skin tags?

Checking your skin regularly for new growths, developing a good relationship with your dermatologist and learning about skin abnormalities are important, especially as you get older.

More patients are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

However, not all types of skin growths are deadly. Some form as people age and are more irritating than anything, including one of the most common: skin tags.

Here's what you need to know about identifying and getting skin tags treated.

What are skin tags?

When too many cells grow in clusters on an area of skin, benign lesions may form.

Several types of these benign lesions are common, especially in people middle age and older. Examples include moles, lentigines and skin tags. Each of these has distinct features, according to WebMD.

Skin tags are small flaps of tissue typically connected to the rest of a person's body by a stem, according to MedicineNet.

The protruding part of a skin tag is usually round, firm but soft, and can be moved around easily. Skin tags commonly form near the neck, under the arms, in the groin area, under the breasts and on any part of the back, according to MedicineNet.

Who gets skin tags?

Skin tags can happen in almost anyone, but, it is not predictable if or when someone will grow them. However, they do become more common as people get older, but they can happen at any age.

"Skin tags appear most often in women, especially with weight gain, and in elderly people," according to WebMD.

Skin conditions confused with skin tags

Although skin tags are benign — unless they are in a place where they become irritated by clothing or jewelry getting caught on them — mistaking other types of skin growths for skin tags can be dangerous.

Tumors can be either benign or malignant, and they typically look and feel different from skin tags, which generally sit above the surface of the skin.

If you have a small raised bump that you are not sure about, you should have a dermatologist look at it.

Methods for removal

If you have irritating skin tags, dermatologists offer several ways to remove them.

Doctors can cut them off with a scalpel or scissors. Your doctor may also choose to freeze skin tags (cryosurgery), which is commonly used to rid patients of warts, or run an electric current through skin tags (electrosurgery), according to MedicineNet.

Each of these methods involves brief and minimal pain and is effective.

Treating existing skin tags, however, does not mean that you cannot make new ones.

If you are going to the dermatologist for routine checkups, which is especially important because it increases the chance of catching malignancies early, you may want to use this time to have a discussion regarding skin tags and moles.

Talk to an expert

Removing skin tags is a routine dermatological procedure and can give comfort to people with irritation or embarrassment due to these benign skin lesions.

If you have a skin tag that gets caught on clothing or jewelry or a similar skin growth that doesn’t match this description, talk to the dermatology experts at Gardens Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center for more information about getting it checked or removed.

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