Guest post by Jennifer Dawson
With nearly half the adult population estimated to have at least one skin tag according to the AOCD, the chances are you’ve seen one of these benign skin growths before. However, spotting one on your child can sometimes cause a little worry. With scientists finding a correlation between obesity and skin tags – and with nearly a third of Michigan’s children currently classified as overweight or obese – it’s understandable to want to know more about how they are caused and how they should be treated. As summer rolls in and everyone enjoys getting outside in the fresh air, this is a good chance to look out for any changes in your child’s skin and be prepared to answer any questions your child may have.
What exactly are skin tags?
Skin tags are small growths of skin formed by collagen fibers, attached to the body by a small thin stalk called a peduncle; now that’s some great vocab for the kids to be intrigued by! They often occur where skin rubs together or against clothing, so are most commonly found around the groin area, upper chest and back, the neck and underarms. The most important thing to remember is that skin tags are not dangerous; they may feel a little uncomfortable but there is usually no cause for alarm.
Should you remove them?
For many children, skin tags aren’t any trouble at all, but if your child’s is in an awkward place (for example, if it’s likely to catch on zips etc), then you may want to seek medical assistance. Advice from the University of Michigan suggests that a doctor may cut, freeze or burn a skin tag to remove it; these are usually fairly quick and painless procedures which heal quite quickly.. It is generally recommended not to try and remove them at home.
Can skin tags be prevented?
There are no definitive causes of skin tags, so preventing them isn’t entirely straightforward. Since they may be partly caused by friction between the skin and clothing, people may be more prone to them if they are overweight. A 2010 study found that the presence of multiple skin tags was associated with insulin resistance, high BMI and high triglycerides; that is to say, diabetes patients may be more prone than others. In Michigan, an estimated 46,000 people a year are diagnosed with diabetes, so it’s worth being alert to this correlation.
Overall, skin tags may be a little irritating from a kid’s point of view, but they certainly shouldn’t be harmful. There’s not much you can do to prevent them, but in the event that your child has one which is proving tricky, consult your doctor to see if it can be removed. These procedures are usually fairly standard; a cuddle and an ice cream afterwards can usually work wonders.