Whether they are painful or simply unsightly, growths on the skin can be alarming to find. At Skin Wellness Dermatology of Alabama, our team of providers is asked daily about whether spots like skin tags and cysts could benefit from cosmetic or medical attention. Here’s what we tell our patients about the make-up of each condition and the treatments that can help.
Small soft growths of skin that protrude from the body, skin tags are made up of normal skin tissue and occur most often in people who are overweight or who have a genetic predisposition. At our practice, we see them where friction is common—around the neck, under the arms, between the legs, or other places where clothing or skin rub together consistently. While not obligatory, you may want to get skin tags treated if they have become a cosmetic concern. They can also get infected if they get twisted, cutting off the blood supply.
Dr. Dyck, Brittany and I have seen skin tags become painful when the blood supply builds up and makes the tag enlarged and sensitive.
The smallest skin tags tend to be the most irritating. At Skin Wellness Dermatology of Alabama, we use small gradle scissors to remove them. Many of our patients are surprised that the procedure does not require numbing. We simply apply a liquid to prevent bleeding. We also may choose to freeze off a skin tag with liquid nitrogen in the same way we treat age spots or warts. This kills the tissue by taking it to -180 degrees. Eventually the skin lifts and peels off.
Your skin is made up of a thin layer of cells that are continuously shed and regenerated. A cyst forms when the cells move deeper into the skin and secrete a protein called keratin. At our practices in Homewood and Chelsea, we find that most of these benign lumps have a blackhead at the opening. If drained, you will see a thick, yellow foul-smelling liquid.
The problem with attempting to treat a cyst on your own is that it can become infected and irritated. Unless you have a trained dermatologist remove the sack that makes up the exterior of the cyst, it is destined to return. If you find a cyst on your skin—they can occur spontaneously or on a part of the skin that has experienced trauma—the best thing to do is leave it alone. In our offices, we can inject a cyst with a steroid to make it collapse, but the most definitive treatment is to remove it via excision.
New growths on the skin should be properly identified by a skilled dermatologist. At Skin Wellness Dermatology of Alabama, our practices are a comfortable place to share your concerns and discuss your treatment options. For details, call us at (205) 871-7332.