Skin tags on senior citizens, whether on the neck or under the arms can be an alarm signal. Is it cancer or is it benign?
These tags are usually oval flaps of tissue that hang from the skin on a tiny stalk. They may appear alone or in a group. Typically, they’re the size of a grain of rice, but they can also be smaller or larger. They’re common, too. Almost half of all people have a skin tag at some point in their lives.
Senior citizens are more susceptible to skin changes. Some examples include:
- Roughened or dry skin
- Benign growths such as seborrheic keratoses and cherry angiomas
- Loose facial skin, especially around the eyes, cheeks, and jowls (jawline)
- Transparent or thinned skin
- Bruising easily from less elasticity
Skin Tags: Symptoms
The vast majority of skin tags have no symptoms. They don’t hurt or itch.
In some cases, friction over time from clothing or skin can irritate a skin tag. Some people have tags in inconveniently located places that regularly get pinched or snagged by jewelry or clothing. If a skin tag is bothering you, a doctor can remove it.
Because tags are usually harmless, there’s usually no medical reason to remove them. They will not get bigger. If they don’t bother you, you can leave them alone. Get them removed only if they’re unsightly or annoying.
In some cases, it’s a good idea to show it to your health care provider. Some more serious skin conditions can sometimes look like skin tags. For example, tags that are multi-colored, bleed, or grow quickly may need a closer look and may indicate a serious condition such as cancer.
Skin Tags: Causes And Treatments
They are linked to a mix of genetics and environment. Friction, either from rubbing against clothing or skin, can be a trigger. Hormone changes may affect the risk, too.
People, such as seniors suffering with diabetes and insulin resistance are more likely to have multiple skin tags. Obesity also increases the risk. Studies have found that the heavier people are, the more skin tags they are likely to have.
Skin tags are not contagious like warts and some other skin conditions.
In most cases, doctors will just clip tags with a pair of surgical scissors. Because they are usually quite small, many people don’t even need an anesthetic. The area may bleed a little afterward. Larger skin tags may need minor surgery.
Some doctors use cryotherapy to freeze the tissue. Others will use electrical current to burn the tag. However, freezing or burning the tag may not work as well and can discolor the skin. Tags on the eyelid may need special treatment by an ophthalmologist.
In some cases, skin tags will fall off on their own. Even after removal, new skin tags can re-appear in the same places. That’s because they are likely to appear in certain areas, not because they regrow.
While some people treat skin tags with chemicals designed for wart removal, doctors say that’s not a good idea. Wart removal creams and ointments may not work and may irritate the skin. They could cause other complications, too.