Michelle Rupp: Joining us now is Rebecca Denniston from Dermatology Group of Arkansas. Becca thank you for joining us today.
Rebecca Denniston, PA-C: Yes, thank you for having me.
MR: I’m curious and we’ve had this conversation kind of offline, but I want to talk about skin tags. What are they first of all?
RD: Yes, good question. So, they are not harmful. Not cancerous little growths that usually occur in areas of friction. So, areas that rub together on the body. So, a lot of times you’ll see them along the neckline, maybe in the groin, sometimes around the eyes if you tend to rub your eyes, but they’re not harmful. They’re just little tiny tags. You can kind of think of it like excess skin almost. But not harmful.
MR: So, anyone can develop these?
RD: Yes, that’s right. Anyone can get them. Really at some point your life, you’re probably going to have at least one. But there are people who get quite a few of them. Especially if you may wear necklaces or you have collars that, you know, rub along the neckline. We’ll see those more often around the neck or any type of fold. Sometimes under the armpits, you will get them. But yes, anybody can get them.
MR: And they’re caused because of friction. That is so interesting to me.
RD: That’s really kind of the, I guess you could say, the science behind it. There’s no- we don’t really know why exactly people get them, but we know that they occur in areas of friction.
MR: Okay, so then how can we get rid of them? Do they fall off? Do we pluck them off? Like how do we get rid of it?
RD: Yeah. So, every now and then they will fall off on their own. The small ones you can actually remove at home. The downside to that though is potentially they could bleed quite a bit. So, skin tags do have a really good blood supply and so kind of back in the day a lot of times what providers would recommend is that you take a piece of string or maybe dental floss and kind of tie off that skin tag and cut off that blood supply and it would come off. Which you can do that at home. You can also do like a little kind of scissors, or you know, cosmetic scissors that are real small to trim them but again they could bleed. So, larger ones we really recommend that you come into clinic to have them taken care of. And there’s a couple of different ways that we can get rid of them. So, we can freeze them off with liquid nitrogen. That causes them to kind of crust up and then peel off in a couple of weeks. And then most commonly we will trim them with scissors. We’ll numb them up and then trim them. And then we have a few different ways that we can stop bleeding if they do bleed quite a bit.
MR: So, regardless of which route you take, then do you run the risk of them coming back in a few years in the same area?
RD: A good question. So, usually the exact skin tag is not going to return once it’s removed but you can develop new skin tags in that given area. So, you know, once you remove it it’s gone. But you could develop new ones later on.
MR: And it’s just one of those random things that our body makes?
RD: Yes, exactly. Yes. And I do, I feel like I’m seeing more and more people come in, especially like with pregnancy. The higher hormones sometimes can cause skin tags to develop. But really anybody can get them.
MR: I do want to draw attention to the fact that you mentioned. These are not cancerous because I would think that could be really kind of jarring when you see that. We’re trained to look at moles and watch shapes and anything that just kind of pops up.
RD: Yes. Yeah. So, I always say that if you have a skin tag or any type of growth that is getting larger quickly or maybe it is bleeding or becoming really irritated, we would take those off and we would actually send those to the pathologist to have it checked. Just to make sure that there’s nothing abnormal but the likelihood of a small skin tag having, you know, pre-cancerous or cancerous qualities is very low.
MR: Very low. Okay, alright. Becca, anything else?
RD: Yeah. I mean, I think the big thing is don’t be afraid to come in and have them removed. You know if they’re bothering you, it’s not for necessarily cosmetic reasons. You know that’s a reason alone to have something taken off. If it’s rubbing on your clothing. You know, your pant line your jewelry. By all means you should come in and have them removed.
MR: And it’s a pretty quick visit, right? In and out?
RD: Yes, very quick. Yeah, definitely.
MR: Okay. Is this something insurance covers or does it just depend?
RD: Good question. So, used to insurance would cover them quite often and most insurances have gotten a little bit picky on what they cover. And so, some insurances do consider skin tag removal as cosmetic. And so most dermatology practices are going to have a cosmetic pricing for you if you come in. But then we are happy always to you know submit them to insurance. It’s just there’s a chance they may not cover them. But a lot of times we’ll you know we’ll put on there that they may be rubbing your clothing, getting irritated, bleeding- things like that. And a lot of times will help insurance to cover them.
MR: Good deal. Great advice there. Becca, thank you so much for joining us today.
RD: Yes, thanks for having me.
MR: And thank you for joining us. We’ll see you back here next week for more AFMC TV.