Acrochorda, otherwise known as skin tags affect people of all walks of life. They are also known as skin polyp, fibroepithelial polyp, fibrovascular papilloma, soft fibroma, or fibroma molle.
Diagnosing acrochorda is based on observation. They are extremely common growths and a correct diagnosis is very important. When removing acrochordon, especially when removing them yourself, you want to ensure you are in fact removing an acrochordon and not a mole or other skin growth. Acrochorda are harmless, benign growths and generally require no pathological follow-up. If you are not sure what you are removing, it is best to get a medical opinion as you do not want to remove a growth that could potentially be dangerous or require a further biopsy.
Acrochorda are painless growths and have no other real symptoms other than their appearance. Skin tags can sometimes itch. This would mainly be when they are first appearing on the skin or if they get irritated.
Typically an acrochordon is peduncled, meaning they hang from the skin and move around if you touch them. This isn’t always the case. Acrochorda can also be immobile, which is why they are so commonly confused for moles or warts. They are usually flesh-colored, but can also appear slightly darker than the skin. Acrochorda are made up of blood vessels and collagen fibers and can bleed heavily if they are pulled off. They commonly have a smooth exterior but can also be rough and irregular when they get larger.
Acrochorda are typically small growths. 1mm – 5mm. They can grow larger to about 5 cm, and there are even rare instances where they grow considerably larger. The largest recorded acrochordon was measured at 30cm. These giant skin tags are very rare and mostly found in developing countries where access to health care is more limited causing patients to seldom seek medical advice.
Acrochorda have common areas in which they form. They are areas that involve a fair amount of friction on the skin and also tend to be in areas where the skin is a little softer. These areas include the eyelids, armpits, neck, and groin. They can also typically be found on the genitals and trunk of the body, but are rarely seen on the legs and feet.
Acrochorda are caused by a number of possible factors. No singular reason has been determined to cause skin tags:
Insulin Imbalance – Acrochordon development has been correlated with insulin resistance and prediabetes.
Friction – This is one of the most common reasons for acrochorda appear, and we can see this by where they form. Together with the other possible causes of acrochorda, friction usually plays a part in the formation of most of them.
Aging – As we age, our skin becomes softer and loses elasticity. This softer skin makes the formation of acrochorda easier. Skin tags will usually start to form in people over the age of 40.
Weight Gain – Gaining weight has a lot of effects on our body. It affects our hormones and insulin levels. It also causes more folds in our skin to form, which causes more friction and rubbing on our skin. All these factors have an effect on acrochorda forming.
Hormone Imbalance – An imbalance of hormones, which can be caused by weight gain or pregnancy cause acrochorda to form.
PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome affects millions of women, and for reasons unknown, it also presents with acrochorda.
Crohn’s Disease – This inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract has a number of effects on the body, including anal swelling. The swelling and compressing of this area leads to the formation of acrochorda.
Genetics – Genetics play a substantial role in the appearance of acrochorda. Not much can be done to help prevent acrochorda that form for genetic reasons. This gene is passed on through generations and the best thing to do is find a good removal technique that works best for you.
Steroids – The use of anabolic steroids can have a major effect on the appearance of acrochorda.
Acrochorda don’t disappear on their own and require further action to resolve them. Ideally one should visit a doctor or dermatologist to remove skin tags, but many people choose to remove themselves due to the simplicity and ease of home removal and to avoid the cost of visiting a doctor. Very large acrochorda should be removed by your doctor. Acrochorda on the eyelids should be removed by an ophthalmologist and skin tags on the vagina should be seen by a gynecologist. For those that choose home removal, there are a number of methods to choose from to safely remove them.