email@example.com (Jennifer Larson,Kathleen Cook Suozzi)
A skin tag is usually the same color as the rest of your skin. It typically looks like a loose piece of skin attached by a stalk to your body, and you can often wiggle it back and forth with your fingers.
Skin tags can vary in size, and they often come in bunches. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone come in with just one skin tag,” says Joyce Davis, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in New York, New York. “They also have a smooth surface, unlike a wart, which is typically rough or corrugated,”
Warts are also benign skin growths. But we know they’re caused by a viral infection to the top layer of your skin, and unlike skin tags, they’re contagious.
Skin tags are also different from another type of skin growth: a mole, or nevus. Unlike skin tags, some moles can lead to skin cancer. Moles can vary in size, and they can be any shade of pink or brown, whereas skin tags are typically the same color as your natural skin. Some moles are raised, while others are flat.
To get rid of a skin tag, seek out a dermatologist.
It’s important to note that you don’t have to remove skin tags at all – they’re harmless. Moreover, experts don’t recommend trying to remove a skin tag at home for multiple reasons.
For one, “that skin tag has a blood vessel within it, so if you remove it, it can bleed,” Davis says. And the bigger or wider the stalk of the skin tag, the more likely it is to bleed a lot.
“You may be quite surprised by the amount of bleeding that comes from something quite small,” says dermatologist Jason A. Clark, MD, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Emory Department of Dermatology, who also doesn’t advise self-removal.
Plus, you might wind up giving yourself a scar or an infection if the tool you use to remove it are not sterilized, Clark says.
To avoid scarring and infection, visit a doctor who will have several removal options for you:
- Snipping it off
- Freezing it off
- Burning it off (also known as cauterizing)
One more thing to note: While skin tags don’t grow back after they’re removed, that won’t stop you from growing new ones. “I can remove what you have,” she says Davis. “But I can’t prevent you from growing new ones.”