Skin tags are basically painless, noncancerous growths on the skin which are connected to the skin by a small, thin stalk called a peduncle. Both men and women have skin tags on their body, it start appearing especially after age 50. Though skin tags can appear on any part of the body, but they are mostly appear on armpits, groin, thighs, eyelids, neck or sometimes at the area under the area under your breasts as well.
What is a skin tag?
In similar words, we can say that skin tags are common skin-colored growths that look similar to a small, soft balloon suspended on a slender stalk. These tags are mostly harmless growths that vary in number and can grow on any of the body part. The medical name for skin tag is acrochordon and some people also call them “skin tabs.” Most of the skin tags are smaller in size (varying from 2 mm-5 mm in diameter) which is approx. one-third to one-half the overall size of an eraser of a pencil; however, some skin tags are large as a big grape as well(usually 1 cm in diameter) or a fig (5 cm in diameter).
Where do skin tags occur?
Skin tags can appear anywhere on the body part which is covered with skin. However, most of the common areas where these tags appear mostly include neck and armpits. Few other body areas where these skin tags develop include eyelids, upper chest, buttock folds, and groin folds as well. These tags mostly occur when skin gets rubs off against itself or with the clothes as well. Babies with plump also witness a growth in skin tags especially at the areas where skin rubs against skin, like the sides of the neck. Younger children tend to develop these tags at the upper eyelid areas, often in areas where they may rub their eyes. Children for more age and preteens also develop tags in the underarm. Some of the areas where these skin tags occur include:
- Base of the neck
- Groin folds
- Buttock folds
- Under the breasts
How can we remove skin tags?
Small skin tags might get disappeared on their own and most of the times they don’t need any kind of special treatment. In case skin tags are hurting or bothering you much, then you can seek doctor’ advice to get them removed. The doctors will remove the skin tags by any of the following ways:
- Cryotherapy- Here doctors will freeze the skin tag using liquid nitrogen to remove skin tags.
- Surgical removal- Removal of skin tag with scissors or a scalpel.
- Electrosurgery- Also, skin tags can be removed using high-frequency electrical energy.
- Ligation: It is a process where a skin tag is removed with the help of surgical thread so that its blood flow can be cut down.
Many people assume that for getting small skin tags removed, anesthesia is needed. Though its not true and sometimes doctors use local anesthesia to remove large or many skin tags.
Natural remedies for removing skin tags:
Apart from seeking doctor’s advice, you can also try some natural remedies for getting rid of skin tags which includes applying tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice on the skin having skin tags. Though there is no scientific evidence supporting these remedies. You might not be an expert in removing skin tags, therefore it is advised to seek doctor assistance in getting rid of such skin tags.
Some of the home remedies for skin tag removal include:
Tag removal device
People with skin tags can use skin tags removal kits which are easily available online and can be purchased from different stores as well. Tag removal device is used to cut off the supply of blood to the base of the tag with a tiny band. By blocking the supply of blood, the cells will die which results in dropping of the tag within 10 days.
Some people also use a piece of dental floss which is also known as string. You need help of another person while suing the string. When the flow of blood has been cut off for at least a few days, the tag will fall on its own, you have to make sure that you are tightening the string or floss every day. Also, make sure that you have clean the skin, string, and hands thoroughly in order to prevent infection.
Skin tag removal cream
There are kits which contain cream and an applicator available in the market and you can use them to get rid of the skin tags. Instructions are given on the kit and it is recommended to clean the skin with an alcohol wipe and filing down the tag before applying the cream, in order to make sure that is absorbed fully. The cream might cause mild stinging sensation but will help in removing skin tags within 2 to 3 weeks.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is very useful in curing many kinds of skin conditions which includes skin tags as well. People having skin tags apply some droplets of oil to a cotton ball, which they then affix to the skin tag with the help of a bandage. This cotton ball is left on the skin tag for at least 5-10 minutes. The same procedure is recommended to apply three times in day for few days or weeks and gradually with the passage of time, you will witness tag falling off from your skin. Make sure you are using this remedy with caution, as people with sensitive skin might feel some kind of irritation. Don’t use tea tree oil for tags which are located near your the eyes.
Apple cider vinegar
According to some researches, apple cider vinegar is useful for skin tag removal. You need to soak a cotton ball in the vinegar and affix it to the tag using a bandage for minimum 10 minutes. The procedure should be done same way at least two to three times a day, till the tag falls away completely. This method of removing skin tags is not advisable for the tags that are present around the eyes.
A person with skin tag can use liquid iodine to remove it. First of all, make sure that you have protected the surrounding skin by applying petroleum jelly or coconut oil to the area. Now soak iodine and spread the liquid evenly across the tag and then cover the area with a bandage until the iodine has dried. This treatment needs to be repeated twice a day until the tag drops off.
Situations when these home remedies won’t work include :
- In case skin tags are located around the eyes
- located around the genitals
- They are very large or long in size
- Causing pain, bleeding, or itching
In all such cases, seeking medical treatment is the best alternative to remove the skin tags.
How to identify a skin tag
The main way of identifying a skin tag is by the peduncle and skin tags hang off the skin by this small stalk. In most of the cases, the skin tags are tiny, and mostly smaller than 2 millimeters in size as well. While some skin tags might grow as large as several centimeters.
Skin tags are soft to the touch and don’t result in any kind of pain on touching them. They are smooth and round, even some skin tags are threadlike and looks similar to grains of rice. In most of the cases, the skin tags are flesh-colored but sometimes they look darker than the surrounding skin due to hyperpigmentation. In case a skin tag becomes twisted, it will turn black due to a lack of blood flow.
Causes of skin tags?
The reason for the growth of skin tags is not clear and since they are usually grown in skin folds, friction is also expected to play a significant role in the growth of skin tags. These tags can occur in anyone, more often they arise in adulthood as compared to children. Though children and toddlers also develop skin tags, particularly in the underarm and neck areas in case the rubbing between the skin is higher.
As per a study conducted in 2008, the human papillomavirus (HPV) was revealed as one of the main reasons for the development of skin tags and in the study, 37 skin tags from various sites of the body were considered. The result of the report revealed that HPV DNA was the main cause in more than 50 percent of the skin tags. Another significant reason was Insulin resistance, which may lead to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes also played a significant role in the development of skin tags. People with insulin resistance are not able to absorb glucose effectively from the bloodstream which in turn results in the growth of skin tags.
Side effects of pregnancy
Sometimes skin tags occur as a common side effect of pregnancy which is mainly due to pregnancy hormones and weight gain. In few cases, multiple skin tags can occur due to hormonal imbalance in the person.
Chances of more growth of skin tags in case you are:
- Family members who have skin tags
- Insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes
Skin tags mostly grow in overweight people; also hormone elevations, such as those seen during pregnancy, also result in an increase in the formation of skin tags, as skin tags are more frequent in pregnant women. Skin tags that don’t result in any kind of pain can easily be removed by seeking dermatologist assistance. Skin tags don’t result in skin cancer. Though you might feel irritated especially on rubbing the skin tags with clothes, jewelry, or other skin. It is advised to shave with caution around skin tags as shaving off a skin tag might not caught permanent damage, though it may cause pain and prolonged bleeding.
What happens when a skin tag changes its color to purple or black?
A thrombosed or clotted skin tag might change colors and sometimes it become purple or black and result in irritation especially when the blood supply is inadequate. These kinds of Thrombosed skin tags fall off on their own within 3 to 10 days and don’t need any kind of medical treatment for the same. However, those skin tags that have changed color or bleed need doctor’s evaluation and reassurance and hence it is advised to consult the doctor at the earliest.
When to see a doctor
Many kinds of skin conditions such as warts and moles look similar to skin tags and some moles may be cancerous, so it is advised to seek a doctor’ opinion in case of occurrence of skin tags. Your dermatologist or family doctor is the right person who will be able to diagnose skin tags and will do this with a visual exam. In case they are not sure about the diagnosis, they might also perform a biopsy.
Wrap – up
In case you have developed a skin tag, then you don’t need to worry much. In case skin tags don’t bother you, and you are sure of the diagnosis, then you can leave them as it as. But one thing you need to keep in mind is that in case you have developed one skin tag, chances are that more will appear soon. Also, some skin tags are stubborn and you need proper treatment to get rid of them. In case a skin tag is frozen or ligated, it can take a few weeks for it to fall off while in some other cases, if a skin tag is regrow, you need to get it removed. In case you have a skin tag that bleeds, itches, or changes color then it is advised to contact your doctor at the earliest. They will examine the condition in a more accurate way and will let you know about it in detail.
In a nutshell we can say that preventing skin tags from occurring is not possible, though remedies can be taken in case it is troubling you.