This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.
Don't cut them off!

If you've ever been embarrassed or irritated by skin tags popping out of your skin, you should know you're not alone.

Nearly a quarter of the world's population is affected by these polyps. And while they're not a medical concern, they're certainly a cosmetic one.

"Most skin tags are genetic so you inherit the tendency from your parents," Julia Carroll, dermatologist and founder of Compass Dermatology, tells The Huffington Post Canada. "They tend to occur in areas where skin is rubbing and can be induced by weight gain including pregnancy."

The small outgrowths, referred to as acrochordons in the medical community, are most commonly found in areas of high friction such as the neck, eyelid, underarms, under breasts and in the groin area. Commonly associated with weight gain, this excess skin isn't easily prevented, though weight loss can help, Carroll explains.

While they do not have to be removed, you may choose to see a doctor who can eliminate the excess skin by cryotherapy (freezing them off), electrodesssication (burning them off) or surgical excision (cutting them off). "All of the methods are very easy and quick to perform," says Carroll. But don't try any of those methods at home.

Skin tags can contain a lot of blood so cutting them off on your own can lead to complications. Dermatologists like Carroll use numbing cream and sterile instruments to make the procedure as safe and comfortable as possible. It will also reduce your chances of scarring. "You may get a decrease or increase of colour pigmentation but for the most part they heal with perceptible scarring," says Carroll.

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