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Acrochordons, Also Known as Skin Tags

Q: The other day while I was shaving my underarms, I noticed a small, firm, flesh-colored flap of skin that was kind of hanging off of me. I've never noticed it before, and it doesn't hurt, but I'm worried that I might accidentally shave it off, or that it's something serious, like a tumor. What is it?

Dr. Donnica:
It sounds like you have found a skin tag. Skin tags, or acrochordons, are common, harmless skin overgrowths that may develop on the face, neck, armpits, and groin. While the cause is unknown, we do know that it may be genetic. Skin tags do not become malignant and they generally need no treatment. Surgical removal may be recommended if skin tags become sore, irritated, or unsightly, however, new skin tags may form.

In the armpit, it is important to avoid cutting them while shaving. Some people have reported that their skin tags have gone away if they take a supplement of chromium picolinate (200 mcg twice a day for 3 months). There is some controversy about whether taking chromium supplements is safe. The best and safest source of chromium is foods such as whole grains, bran cereals, seafood, green beans, broccoli, prunes, nuts, peanut butter, and potatoes. Sugary foods are low in chromium and may even promote chromium loss; vitamin C, however, may increase chromium absorption.

Created: 12/3/2005  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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