Skin tags are small, soft, harmless growths that can appear on your skin. The growths range from 1mm to 5cm in size and appear slightly darker than your skin. Tags are typically benign, meaning that they are non-cancerous. They also don’t cause pain, although sometimes they can be irritated when rubbed against clothes or jewelry.
The medical term for skin tags is acrochordons. These growths are more common in people over 50. About 60% of adults will have developed a skin tag. Tags occur in areas where skin rubs each other or places with creases and folds. This includes your neck, armpits, eyelids, under the breast for women and on the buttocks and groin folds.
The growth can happen to people of all races, including black people or people of African heritage. However, there are different types of skin tags. For example, DPN (Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra) is a type of skin tag that occurs on the face and is common among black people. On the other hand, Keratosis are skin tags that appear on the buttocks, upper arms and cheeks. They aren’t prone-specific to a race.
In this article, we will explore three types of skin tags that occur on the faces of black people.
Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra (DPN)
DPN is an epidermal growth characterized by small, black or brown bumps typical on the face, neck, upper back, or chest. Research has found that this skin condition commonly affects African Americans, Caucasians and people of Asian descent. These skin tags begin to develop during adolescence, and as you age, they increase in number and size. The cause of Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra is unknown.
Although DPN is harmless and doesn’t cause pain, some people may opt to remove the bumps for cosmetic purposes. However, before undergoing any treatment, all patients should be informed of the likelihood of dyspigmentation. Darker skin types tend to heal with dyspigmentation; therefore, treatment should be done in portions to check healing progress.
The treatment option for DPN falls under two broad categories. Surgical and laser treatment. Under surgery, you can be treated through
- Cryosurgery_ Freezing the skin tags with liquid nitrogen
- Curettage- scraping the bumps away using a unique instrument
- Electrocautery- it involves burning the skin tags using a small probe with an electric current
Laser treatment involves using lights of different frequencies to remove or reduce the appearance of the epidermal growths.
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Filiforms are thread-like skin tags that extend about 1-2 millimeters from the skin. They mostly appear on the lips and eyelids, and they don’t form in clusters. They can be on the leg and neck. On black skin, these growths appear skin toned or brown. Some refer to these tags as facial warts.
According to doctors, filiforms are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus can be spread via skin contact, especially if the skin is broken. However, these thread-like skin tags are non-cancerous.
Skin tags are treatable in several ways. However, note that there isn’t any treatment for HPV. So, the warts can reappear. Treatment options include
- Excision- This is where the skin tags are cut or shaved using a scalpel
- Topical creams- the prescribed creams contain benzoyl peroxide or imiquimod that makes the filiform peel away from your skin
- Electrosurgery– the doctor uses an electric current or laser to burn the skin tag. Any remnant growth is scraped off.
- Cantharidin– involves using a chemical to trigger a blister to form under the wart. After a week, the doctor can cut off the wart.
Other treatment options include cryotherapy. The doctor can also result to laser treatment, immunotherapy and chemical peels if the skin tags don’t respond to the above treatment options.
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Fribromas (Cutaneous tags)
Fibroma is the medical term for non-cancerous growth consisting of connective tissues. Fibromas are, therefore, benign tumors formed by fibrous or connective tissues. There are two types of fibromas, soft and hard. Hard fibromas are made of many fibers and few cells. When seen on the skin, they are called keloids.
Our interest is soft fibromas, also called cutaneous tags or acrochordons. Soft fibroma comes in three types.
- A solitary bag-like – these are pedunculated growths, usually about 1 cm.
- Single or multiple filiform- these are small growths.
- Multiple small furrowed papules- these skin tags are found on the face, neck and axilla. They are usually 1-2mm long.
Soft fibromas don’t cause any pain unless irritated or inflamed. The pedunculated ones may sometimes be twisted or fall off by themselves. However, should you need to remove them, here are your treatment options:
- Ligation with a copper wire or a suture
- Cryotherapy – especially for small multiple growths.
Skin tags can occur in people of all ages, races and gender. However, specific skin tags are common among people of a particular age group, gender and even race. For example, the three above skin tags are common among black people and manifest mainly on the face.
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You can identify types of skin tags on the face. This will help you know the best way to manage it or get treatment if necessary. While most skin tags aren’t painful or dangerous, removing them can help boost your confidence. Therefore, if you need to do so, please don’t shy away. There are qualified professionals trained to help you. Finally, should you notice any change in your skin tags, including pain, please seek the help of a qualified dermatologist.
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