Lumps & Bumps: Treating Skin Tags

Eleanor Kurtz, MD

It’s often concerning when you notice a new lump or bump growing on your skin. One of the common skin growths that people ask about are skin tags (also called acrochordons or soft fibromas). Skin tags are harmless over-growths of normal skin that often look like they’re growing from a short stalk or stem. About 25% of adults get them and they often run in families.

They occur more frequently with increasing age, obesity, and also with pregnancy. They tend to occur at places on your body that are subject to friction:  on the neck where shirt collars rub, in underarms, underneath women’s breasts and in the skin folds along the groin. They are usually small, although some do grow to substantial sizes. In most cases, your primary care doctor will be able to identify a skin tag simply by looking at it.

Although skin tags can enlarge and become inflamed, they do not turn into skin cancers. They do not represent any risk to your health, but can be a nuisance if your clothing or jewelry rub against them. Many patients simply dislike the appearance and request removal of skin tags for cosmetic reasons. Unfortunately, skin tags often occur again in sites that are exposed to friction and sometimes even grow back at the same site after removal.

Large Skin Tag in Groin (source: dermatlas.med.jhmi.edu)

Typical Skin Tags on the Neck (source: www.findhomeremedy.com)

Many physicians can remove skin tags with a simple in-office procedure (usually by cutting, burning or freezing the skin tag off), though your insurance company may not cover the cost if you are requesting removal for cosmetic reasons.

+ Read more of Dr. Kurtz’s blogs on skin conditions and other health topics.

About Dr. Eleanor Kurtz
Eleanor Kurtz, MD, of Bon Secours Medical Associates at Virginia Beach, is an internal medicine physician who earned her medical degree from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, Ohio. She completed an internship, as well as a residency in internal medicine, at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va. A diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, Dr. Kurtz is a member of the American Medical Association and American College of Physicians. She has a special interest in wound care. Read more blog posts by Dr. Kurtz!

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kurtz in Virginia Beach please call (757) 305-1797!

4 thoughts on “Lumps & Bumps: Treating Skin Tags

  1. Robert

    Yeah sadly most insurance plans don’t cover skin tags, but hopefully you have a good doctor who will write it off as a wart or something. Are there any home remedies or over the counter remedies for skin tags?

    1. Dr. Eleanor Kurtz

      It’s best to have a physician confirm the diagnosis first, but yes, there are ways to treat them at home. Keep in mind that skin tags often have a good blood supply and often bleed profusely upon removal, so cutting or snipping them off at home is not a good approach.

      Probably the easiest (and safest) way to remove a skin tag at home is by tying a string tightly around the base of the stalk, cutting off the blood supply. Usually the skin tag will fall off after a few days and typically there will be little to no bleeding. However, this may not be practical for very small skin tags or very large numbers of skin tags.

      There are some over the counter topical remedies available, but they can damage normal skin, so I’d be reluctant to recommend this approach (you may not want to trade a small growth for a larger discolored area). Pregnant women shouldn’t use these types of remedies and most of them are poisonous if ingested.

      Getting insurance coverage for skin tag removal can be an obstacle, but if the skin tag is large, rapidly growing or irritated from frequent trauma, insurance will usually cover the treatment. Alternatively, many dermatologists will remove multiple lesions for a flat fee.

  2. Pingback: Simplify the removal of skin tags | MyInfoWiZARD.COM

  3. Rachael

    Wow, didn’t know it could get that severe! I don’t think I would want to snip a skin tag! Seems a little too scary for me. Thanks for the informative blog!

    Cheers!

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