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Cutaneous skin tag

Definition

A cutaneous skin tag is a common skin growth that is usually harmless (benign).

Alternative Names

Skin tag; Acrochordon; Fibroepithelial polyp

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

A cutaneous tag usually occurs in older adults. They are more common in people who are overweight or who have diabetes. They are thought to occur from skin rubbing against skin.

Symptoms

The tag sticks out of the skin and may have a short, narrow stalk connecting it to the surface of the skin. It is usually small, but may be a half-inch long. The tag is usually the same color as skin, or a little darker.

It is usually painless and does not grow or change. However, it may be irritated from rubbing by clothing or other materials.

A skin tag may occur on the

  • Neck
  • Underarms
  • Middle of the body, or under folds of skin
  • Eyelids
  • Other body areas

Signs and tests

Your doctor can diagnose this condition by looking at your skin. Sometimes, a skin biopsy is done.

Treatment

Treatment is usually not needed. Your doctor may recommend treatment if the skin tag is irritating, or you don't like how it looks. Treatment may include:

  • Surgery to remove it
  • Freezing it (cryotherapy)
  • Burning it off (cauterization)

Expectations (prognosis)

A skin tag is usually harmless. It may become irritated if clothing rubs against it. The growth usually does not grow back after it is removed. However, new skin tags may form on other parts of the body.

Calling your health care provider

Call your doctor or nurse if the skin tag changes, or if you want it removed. Do not cut it yourself, because it can bleed a lot.

References

Benign skin tumors. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 20.

Review Date: 11/22/2011
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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