A skin tag, or acrochordon (pl. acrochorda), is a small benign tumor that forms primarily in areas where the skin forms creases (or rubs together), such as the neck, armpit and groin. They may also occur on the face, usually on the eyelids. Perianal skin tags can be associated with Crohn’s disease. Acrochorda are generally harmless and painless and usually do not grow or change over time.
Though tags up to a half-inch long have been seen, they are typically the size of a grain of rice. The surface of an acrochordon may be smooth or irregular in appearance and is often raised from the surface of the skin on a fleshy stalk called a peduncle. Microscopically, an acrochordon consists of a fibrovascular core, sometimes also with fat cells, covered by an unremarkable epidermis. However, tags may become irritated by shaving, clothing, jewellery or eczema.
Skin tags are thought to occur from skin rubbing up against skin, since they are so often found in skin creases and folds. Studies have shown existence of low-risk HPV 6 and 11 in skin tags, hinting at a possible role in its pathogenesis although one 2012 study found no association between skin tags and low risk or high risk human papillomaviruses. Acrochorda have been reported to have a prevalence of 46% in the general population. A causal genetic component is thought to exist.
Like moles, removal of skin tags poses a threat of exacerbation of the tumorous site. Though rare, it is possible to develop a malignant tumor by removal. If removal is desired or warranted, it can be achieved using a home treatment kit, dermatologist, general practitioner or similarly trained professional who may use cauterisation, cryosurgery, excision, laser, or surgical ligation to remove the acrochorda.