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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What is a skin tag?
A skin tag is a small growth that forms on the skin. The growth hangs off the skin from a small piece of tissue called a stalk. A skin tag often grows where skin rubs against skin and causes friction. Diabetes or obesity can increase your risk for skin tags. The risk also increases with age. Skin tags are usually harmless.
What are the signs and symptoms of a skin tag?
You may have a few skin tags in the same area. This is common. A skin tag is usually the same color as your skin, or it may be a little darker. A skin tag is usually small but can be as large as 1/2 inch (1 centimeter). Skin tags usually do not cause pain, but they can cause irritation by rubbing against your clothes or jewelry. Common areas for skin tags to grow are your underarms, between folds of skin, eyelids, or inner thighs. They can also grow on your neck or other body areas.
How is a skin tag diagnosed and treated?
Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you have a skin tag by looking at it. He or she may do a biopsy (skin sample) if the skin tag looks unusual. This is to make sure it is not skin cancer. Skin tags are not always treated. The skin tag will not go away on its own, but you may not notice it or be bothered by it. You can help remove a skin tag by tying a string or dental floss around the skin tag. This will cut off the blood supply to the skin tag, and it will fall off after a few days. The following may be needed if the skin tag irritates your skin:
- Cryotherapy is a procedure used to freeze the skin tag. Your healthcare provider uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the area.
- Cauterization is a procedure used to burn the skin tag off. Your healthcare provider uses a device to burn the area.
- Surgery may be used to remove the skin tag. Do not try to cut the skin tag off by yourself with a sharp object. Skin tags can bleed heavily when they still have a blood supply.
What can I do to manage or prevent skin tags?
- You can put a bandage over the skin tag to help with irritation. Change the bandage every day or if it gets wet or dirty.
- Skin tags often cannot be prevented. You may be able to lower your risk by losing weight. This will reduce skin folds where skin tags tend to form. Talk to your healthcare provider about how much you should weigh. He or she can help you create a safe weight loss plan.
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
- The skin tag changes in size, shape, or color.
- You have a rash or other skin problem around the skin tag.
- The skin tag bleeds.
- Your skin tag is affecting your ability to do your daily activities.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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