As the name suggests, these look like little tags on the skin. They are very common on the sides of the neck and also on the underarms. Several people confuse them with warts. But the difference between the two is critical as warts are viral infections and need to be treated whereas skin tags are simply benign outgrowths on the skin and can be left alone.
The significance of skin tag is that sometimes, it may be a marker on the skin for insulin resistance. This means that it may indicate a slightly higher risk for diabetes. Hence people with multiple skin tags or skin tags at a young age should get a fasting blood sugar checked atleast once a year
Apart from this, it is merely a cosmetic blip and an annoyance. Many people however prefer to have them treated for cosmetic reasons.
They can be destroyed using:
- Chemicals: A drop of a strong acid like Tri-Chloro-acetic acid is applied on the skin tag but this often leads to incomplete removal. Also the wart becomes hard for about 10-20 days and then falls off.
- Radiofrequency energy: This is my preferred method. Radiofrequency energy is used to destroy the excessive skin. This can be done with a numbing gel if the warts are small or a small local anaesthetic if the warts are big. The treated spots look swollen like a mosquito bite for a day. After that a blackish crust forms which falls off in a few days. In most people the treatment does not leave a scar.
- Light energy: A LASER device is used to destroy the excessive skin. This works very similar to radiofrequency.