Let me start the article by clearing the air, a skin tag is not cancerous. On the contrary, a skin tag is rarely ever harmful to a person and there is no urgent need to get it removed. You can opt for any skin tag treatment to get it removed professionally or choose to work on it by yourself.

On the other hand, some skin growths that look like a skin tag can be dangerous if cancerous. To find out if the growth of skin tag is cancerous or not, you need to get professional help.

Before we get more into the details of getting your tags or other malignant skin growths removed by a physician, let’s understand what a skin tag is exactly.

Skin Tags: What it is and Why it is Appear?

The What

Skin tags are the small pieces of soft hanging skin, sometimes skin colored and sometimes darker, that you might find across your body. There isn’t any sure prerequisite for these to appear – in other words, anybody can get these on any part of the body.

The tags are made up of dead cells and are attached to the skin via a short stalk (more often referred to as a peduncle). This stalk is also a distinguishing characteristic for tags when comparing them with other skin tumors.

The Why

Skin tags usually grow in areas more prone to friction and skin folds. This is why they’re most commonly found in the armpits, neck, groin, upper chest, eyelids and under the breasts. While anybody can get a skin tag, it is also more prevalent in a certain group of people.

  • Obese or overweight people have a greater chance of getting a skin tag
  • Patients of diabetes, high blood pressure or higher cholesterol levels
  • Women going through hormonal changes (such as during pregnancy), or due to imbalance in levels of estrogen and progesterone

Does that mean skin tags only occur in people belonging to these categories? Absolutely not!

What Type of Growths Can be Cancerous?

Here’s what you need to know: benign is not malignant.

Benign growths (such as skin tags) are non-cancerous. These grow slowly and unlike cancerous growths, do not spread to other parts of the body.

Some of the common benign growths are:

  • Skin tags (acrochordon)
  • Cherry Angioma
  • Dermatofibromas
  • Lipomas
  • Mole (Nevus)
  • Cysts (epidermal inclusion)
  • Pyogenic granulomas
  • Dermatosis papulosa nigra
  • Lentigines
  • Seborrheic keratoses

On the other hand, malignant skin growths (like melanoma) are cancerous, grow fast and spread to other parts too. It is this type of growth that patients must be wary of.

Some common malignant skin growths are:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Kaposi Sarcoma
  • Lymphoma of the skin

How to Determine if a Skin Growth is Malignant?

We’ve already established that a skin tag isn’t cancerous but other skin growths can be. If you’re unsure whether the skin growth on your body is a tag or something else, you can look for some common signs.

Skin tags look a certain way.

  • Unlike all other skin growths, skin tags have a short and thin stalk that connects it with the skin.
  • They may look like a cluster of skin tissue and often resemble a raised mole.
  • A skin tag is usually the same colour as your skin but if it gets twisted and the oxygen supply is cut off, the tag might turn dark (even black).
  • Most skin tags are small and very rarely go up to a few centimeters. Most tags are somewhere between 1-5 mm.
  • Skin tags are a cluster or dead cells, so it should not hurt or feel inflamed.

On the other hand, malignant growths like melanoma have common giveaways too.

  • Malignant moles or growths have a higher chance of being asymmetrical.
  • They tend to have irregularly shaped borders and tend to grow and spread faster.
  • These lesions can have multiple colors.

In any case, if you’re ever unsure about the lesions growing on your body, it is always recommended to consult a physician. The doctors will begin with a physical examination following which they might recommend a lab test if the lesions appear to be malignant.

It is crucial to remember that recognizing a cancerous growth in the early states can prevent the spread of cancer throughout the body. The removal of the lesion in this case is enough to free you from any cancerous developments. If you find a growth on your skin that wasn’t previously there and doesn’t feel like a skin tag, contact your physician immediately.

Skin Tag Treatment

Even if the dark and loose skin hanging from your neck turns out to be a skin tag (and nothing dangerous), you can get it removed.

Rather than going for a DIY session with a blade, opt for a more hygienic and safer method by going under the blade at the medical clinic. The most common way of getting a skin tag removed is – surgery.

Surgery – Skin tag is cut off with surgical scissors.

Cryosurgery – Skin tag falls off after being frozen with liquid nitrogen.

Electrosurgery – Skin tag is removed using heat produced from electric current.

You can also prefer an over-the-counter alternative or a home remedy that does not involve the use of kitchen scissors or a blade. Removing the tag yourself can lead to scarring, excessive bleeding, skin damage, infection etc. It is also important to get a doctor’s opinion about whether the growth is a tag or a malignant lesion before you put it under the blade.

Some common home remedies people use to remove the skin tag are apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, oregano oil or over the counter liquid nitrogen that you can get from a local pharma.

In any case, a visit to your physician’s office might be the most appropriate way to get your tag removed.

In most cases, a skin tag will not have any impact on your health or life in general. Even if you decide to not get the tag removed, it won’t cause any hindrance to your life. At the same time, getting the tag removed for cosmetic purposes is equally safe as long as done with professional assistance from a skin tag removal clinic.