Skin Tag

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideRosacea, Acne, Shingles: Common Adult Skin Diseases

Rosacea, Acne, Shingles: Common Adult Skin Diseases

What does a skin tag look like under a microscope?

Laboratory preparation of the tissue is required before looking at the skin tag under the microscope. The skin is stained with a stain called hematoxylin and eosin ("H&E"). Under the microscope, there is a colored spherical tissue attached to a small stalk. The purple outer layer (epidermis) overlies a pink core (dermis).

The outer layer of the skin (the epidermis) shows overgrowth of normal skin (hyperplasia), and it encloses an underlying layer of skin (the dermis) in which the normally present collagen fibers appear abnormally loose and swollen. Usually there are no hairs, moles, or other skin structures present in skin tags.

While the majority of skin tags are simply destroyed, sometimes tissue is sent for microscopic exam by a specialist physician known as a pathologist, who will determine the exact diagnosis and determine whether an abnormality such as skin cancer is present. Irregular skin growths that are larger, bleed, or have an unusual presentation may require pathology examination to make sure there are no irregular cells or skin cancers.

Some common skin conditions that can mimic skin tags include seborrheic keratoses, moles, warts, cysts, milia, neurofibromas, and nevus lipomatosus. Rarely, skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma may mimic skin tags. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 2/17/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Fitzpatrick, Thomas B., et al. Dermatology in General Medicine. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993.

Schwartz, Robert A. "Acrochordon." Medscape.com. Apr. 25, 2011. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1060373-overview>.

Shah, R., A. Jindal, and N.M. Patel. "Acrochordons as a Cutaneous Sign of Metabolic Syndrome: A Case-Control Study." Ann Med Health Sci Res 4.2 Mar.-Apr. 2014: 202-205.

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14. Dr. Nili N. Alai

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