The issue of skin tags has been around for centuries, yet we still don’t know for sure what really causes them. What we do know is that they are benign growths consisting of fatty tissue and skin cells which appear on the neck, face, armpits, torso, and legs. More often than not they develop in areas where the skin wrinkles or creases, and they are more common in older people over the age of 50.
Research has been going on for decades to try and figure out what causes these blemishes. Not that it’s a serious medical issue, but simply that it would be nice to know what causes them and how to prevent them in the future. One of the most exciting new areas of research is in the area of human papillomavirus also known as HPV.
Human papillomavirus is a group of over 200 viruses in papillomavirus family. The medical community attaches the word “human” to indicate those strains that successfully attack human beings. Of the 200 strains that meet this criterion, nearly 100 of them are responsible for all the various kinds of warts found in humans.
HPV is now being considered a possible cause for some skin tags due to some research showing some strains of the virus linked to skin tags. The research is very limited in scope, and not conclusive, but scientists discovered in a small number of skin tag cases that patients exhibited a minor infection of either HPV 6 or HPV 11. What makes this research so intriguing is the fact that skin tags and warts have several similarities in terms of the way they grow and, in some cases, how they appear.
It is generally accepted that a skin tag grows when an area of the skin is continually agitated through friction or some function within the body. This irritation triggers a defence response in the body which causes accelerated multiplication of skin and fat cells. As those cells multiply they grow up and out to form the stalk of the skin tag.
Likewise, when HPV finds an entryway into the skin through a cut or scratch, the virus also produces a defence reaction which causes the body to rapidly multiply skin cells. Those skin cells spread up and out to form warts.
Even more intriguing is the similar appearance of filiform warts and skin tags. Filiform warts are one of the more unique types of warts due to the fact that they resemble stalks or twigs rather than rounded bumps. In fact, to the inexperienced eye both filiform warts and skin tags are easily confused. Their common composition is slightly different in terms of the types of tissue involved, but they are similar enough that this could easily be accounted for.
It’s not absolutely essential that skin tags be removed because they are benign. But if they bother you, or they continue to be irritated by clothing or jewellery, you can purchase an over-the-counter remedy to help get rid of them. When it comes to such remedies be sure to choose one that is natural rather than one that contains chemicals or harsh substances. All-natural remedies are effective without the risk of scarring or skin irritation.
If you would prefer the help of your doctor, he or she will have several other options for you to choose from including excision, cryotherapy, and cauterization. Just beware that the methods your doctor uses may cause some amount of pain and will always carry the risk of leaving scars.