Skin tags, also known as cutaneous tags, are benign skin growths that are typically small; however some may grow up to a half-inch long. They are skin-colored and can at times be darker. Skin tags are treated by Dr. DeEtta Gray, in her Bellveue office, for patients from Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Seattle.

Many patients find them to be cosmetically displeasing and at times irritating if they rub on clothes or other materials. There are many methods for their removal including excision, cryotherapy (freezing), or cautery (electrical burn). Some patients are prone to skin tags and may have to have them periodically removed at quarterly or annual intervals.

Skin tags typically occur after midlife are common in overweight people or people with diabetes, as well as in pregnant women. They often form in skin folds because of the contact with skin. They are usually benign, and may have a narrow stalk that connects it to the skin’s surface. They are not contagious, generally painless and do not change; however, new skin tags may appear after their removal in other areas of the body.

Skin tags are most commonly found in the armpits and on the neck, however they can be found anywhere on the skin, including the eyelids. Many people may have had skin tags and don’t know it, because often they can rub something and simply fall off. Also note, many patients have inadvertently removed their skin tags while shaving; when this occurs it is harmless. Cutaneous tags are not considered to be part of any major medical condition and can be found on healthy people with no removal necessary.

While cutaneous tags are benign, in extremely rare cases if they bleed, grow, or display multiple colors – such as pink, red, brown, or black – this may indicate they have become precancerous or cancerous. These need to be removed immediately and diagnosed by your physician.

If your skin tags are cosmetically displeasing, there are many methods our doctor may perform for their removal. Skin tags can be removed by tying it at its narrow base with a piece of string or dental floss and allowing it to fall off (after several days), and can also be removed with surgical scissors with immediate results (although minor bleeding may occur). Other methods for removal include freezing the skin tags with liquid nitrogen, or burning the tags with a Hyfrecator, or electric cautery. Each of these methods can be done without anesthesia; however you may prefer a local anesthesia before the procedure. We do not recommend you use creams for removal as they may cause unwanted complications.

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