As the largest organ on the body, your skin plays a large role in your overall health. When your skin is healthy, the rest of your body likely feels fairly healthy, too. But skin conditions or discomfort can be an indicator that your overall health has other issues.
But how do you know when something on your skin should be checked out by a dermatologist in Fort Collins?
One of the most common skin conditions are skin tags, but many people don’t know how to handle them or when to see a dermatologist. Here’s everything you need to know about skin tags, why they hurt, and when you need to worry about them.
What are Skin Tags and Why Do Skin Tags Occur?
Skin tags, also known as acrochordons, are small growths on your skin made of collagen and blood vessels. They often look like a raised mole or tiny stem of skin and are the same color as your skin. Skin tags form when the body produces extra skin cells. Often, a skin tag first appears as a tiny bump on the skin that grows until it becomes a piece of skin attached by a stalk. Skin tags can be easily wiggled and moved without causing pain.
Skin tags often form in areas where the skin naturally rubs against itself or in skin folds, such as eyelids, armpits, neck, groin, or genitals. In most cases, skin tags are simply extra pieces of skin and benign lesions.
Skin tags are common. It’s estimated that half of all adults will have at least one skin tag in their lifetime. The exact cause of skin tags isn’t known, but people are more likely to have skin tags if they have a family history of skin tags, have conditions like diabetes or obesity, or are pregnant. People are more likely to develop skin tags as they age, with most skin tags happening in people older than 60.
In general, skin tags are noncancerous and don’t impact the health of the rest of your body. But that doesn’t mean they don’t cause pain. Skin tags can also make you feel self-conscious, especially if they are on a visible part of the face or body. And taking care of your skin’s health means paying attention to any new growths, including skin tags. Knowing when to see a dermatologist can help relieve any anxiety that comes from having a new skin tag.
When Not to Worry About Skin Tags
If your skin tags don’t hurt and aren’t changing, there typically isn’t anything to worry about. Skin tags or cysts are common and generally shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
Many skin tags eventually fall off on their own, meaning you can simply let it run its course if it isn’t causing pain or cosmetic issues. It’s also possible to live with skin tags without them impacting your movement or way of life. Don’t worry about skin tags if they are small, the same color as your skin, and not changing.
When To Worry About Skin Tags
In general, skin tags are fairly harmless. But there may be times when you want to discuss your skin tags with a dermatologist. In general, a skin tag shouldn’t be noticeable or impact your way of life. But if a skin tag starts to be more noticeable or has additional symptoms, it should be examined by a doctor.
Here are five signs you should talk to a doctor about your skin tags:
If the skin tag is painful.
When a skin tag twists on its stalk, a blood clot can develop and cause pain. Pain can also happen if the skin around the skin tag has a rash, another skin condition, or has gotten infected. Skin tag pain is lasting and more than just a casual discomfort when you move a certain way. If you experience pain when touching a skin tag or have pain from your skin tag all the time, go see your dermatologist.
If the skin tag bleeds easily.
Skin tags are fairly resilient and generally shouldn’t bleed or tear if they rub against something else. If you have a skin tag that starts to bleed, go see a dermatologist. Bleeding can be a sign that the skin tag is irritated, which could be related to another skin or health issue. If you know the reason the skin tag is bleeding, such as it accidentally getting caught on a piece of jewelry or clothing, the skin tag is likely fine. Bleeding is more of a concern when the cause isn’t known or the bleeding doesn’t stop. Pay attention to how much blood comes from the skin tag and where it is coming from because that can help diagnose the problem.
If the Skin Tag is Red
Most skin tags are the same color as the person’s skin. A red skin tag could occur when the tag is twisted on its blood supply, which isn’t a large cause for concern. However, a red or inflamed skin tag could also be a sign of a more severe skin condition and should be monitored, especially if the tag changes shape or grows. A bright red or uneven skin tag is a skin tag to worry about.
If the Skin Tag Changes Color or Shape
Most skin tags are small and the same color as your skin. Over time, a skin tag can turn brown with age. The concern is if your skin tag is multiple colors. If your skin tag starts to grow quickly or changes shape beyond the typical stalk shape, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition or could be a cancerous cell mistaken for a skin tag.
If the Skin Tag Causes Irritation
Because skin tags tend to develop in areas where the skin naturally rubs against itself, the skin tags themselves can cause discomfort and leave you asking, “Why does my skin tag hurt?”. Skin tags that hurt often rub against clothing, jewelry, or other skin or are found in a place that causes friction. Although this irritation likely isn’t the signal of a larger medical issue, it can be uncomfortable and can be a reason to discuss your skin tag with a local dermatologist.
Can Skin Tags Be Red?
On their own, skin tags are typically the same color as your skin. However, as they age and twist, skin tags can turn red or black. In most cases, a red skin tag isn’t a cause for concern on its own. If that color change is combined with pain, inflammation, or bleeding, see a doctor to have your skin tag removed.
In a few cases, red skin tags have been linked to skin cancer. But in those cases, the skin tag was likely misdiagnosed and was actually a different type of mole or tumor. A dermatologist can answer any questions about your skin tags and properly diagnose them. Paying attention to changes and growths on your skin, including skin tags, is critical to catching skin cancer and other conditions early on.
How to Treat Skin Tags
If a skin cyst exhibits any of these symptoms, visit a dermatologist for an examination. There are multiple ways to remove skin tags, and your dermatologist will help you choose the best course of action for your skin tag, depending on its size and location.
Skin tag removal should be done by a qualified dermatologist to ensure it is done properly. Although there are many over-the-counter skin tag removal products, these treatments come with a higher risk of complications like scarring, excessive bleeding, and infection. For best results, see a qualified dermatologist.
Skin tag removal is typically fast and painless. Most procedures can be performed right in the dermatologist’s office. There are three main ways to remove a skin tag: shaving it off with a sharp instrument, using liquid nitrogen to freeze it off, or using heat to burn it off. After the skin tag is removed, the area will likely scab and eventually heal to its pre-skin tag appearance. The recovery length depends on the removal method and the skin tag’s location. Although you may notice a small mark where the skin tag once was, it will be barely noticeable to other people.
Skin tags are a normal occurrence in many people, especially as they age. In most cases, skin tags are nothing to worry about. But pay attention for these symptoms to take care of dangerous skin tags properly.