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Taipei City Hospital

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DIY Polyp Ligation May Lead to Infection and Serious Conditions

       A 40 year old male patient attempted to remove skin tags from his groin area by tying a string around the root of the tags, but instead developed redness and swollen pain after 3 days; another 30 year old female patient also sought medical assistance for the same reason; she attempted to remove skin tags from her neck by tying a string around the root of the tags. Both cases were examples of ischemic necrosis of the tags via self-ligation, and may develop into topical tissue infection without timely medical treatment. Some people may think that the way to remove the tags is to either cut away with scissors or by pulling; however, doing so may cause bleeding, infection and further complication.

       “Skin polyps or tags are benign fibroma,” says Dr. Pan Chi-yueh, Director of the Division of Dermatology of the Taipei City Hospital’s Zhongxing Branch. Skin tags are commonly found in adults over the age of 30 and the prevalence increases with age, with 60-70 incidence rate in seniors. The tags are commonly found on the neck, armpits, groin and eyelids. They appear as smooth, skin-colored growths with smooth or irregular textures, ranging from 0.1 cm to 1-2 cm or more in size. Tags can appear in dozens or even up to hundreds; larger tags are attached to the skin on stalks and may appear as a single growth.

       Smaller tags are sometimes mistakenly identified as viral warts, and share clinical characteristics with the dermatosis papulosa nigra (a form of seborrheic keratosis), so clear evaluation of the symptoms is needed. Tags are benign growths and are non-infectious, and usually require no treatments unless for aesthetic or symptomatic reasons. The procedures of tag removal depend on the size; smaller tags may be removed via laser excision or electro-cauterization, while larger tags may require surgical removal. Whatever the cases, patients are advised not to perform self-ligation or removal, as there is a great chance that tissue necrosis, infection or continuous bleeding may occur.