Skin Tag Removal
A skin tag is a small protruding, or hanging, flap of skin that usually attaches to the neck, under the arms, eye lids, or folds of the skin, like the groin area or under the breasts.
When skin tags appear they are usually the same color as your skin, although some may be brown. Skin tags can be smooth or wrinkled and vary in size from very tiny to large (say, the size of a grape). Very small skin tags may be raised bumps, rather than hang or protrude.
Skin tags are not typically painful – unless they are catching on your clothes and rubbing against other parts of the body – then they may bleed occasionally and can become a nuisance. Regardless of the type or size, most people find skin tags unsightly and want them removed.
What Causes Skin Tags
- Skin tags are caused by bunches of collagen and blood vessels that get trapped inside thicker parts of skin causing a cluster or tag.
- Skin tags are never present at birth but tend to appear as we age.
- Studies suggest that skin tags can be an inherited condition, and tend to run in families.
- Skin tags are more common in overweight people who have areas of skin-to-skin contact and friction.
- Hormonal changes of pregnancy can also stimulate the growth of skin tags, particularly during the second trimester of pregnancy.
- People with diabetes are susceptible to skin tags.
- Those who use steroids are also prone to developing skin tags. That’s because steroids cause bonding of collagen fibers in your skin which in turn forms skin tags.
- Individuals who tend to develop skin tags will likely develop more over time.
- Skin tags are not cancerous. Cases of skin cancer in skin tags are extremely rare.
Living with Skin Tags
While skin tags can be unsightly, they are not dangerous; they are not painful; and they are usually not bothersome. For all these reasons, most skin tags are left alone and not removed.
When left untreated, it’s best to care for the area around the skin tag and not let it get irritated or cause the skin tag to bleed. To do that, avoid putting skin tags in contact with tight clothing, jewelry, excessive rubbing from bags, belts or other accessories that can cause friction.
Professional Removal of Skin Tags
There are various ways to remove skin tags.
Your doctor can achieve this with a scalpel or scissors. The skin tag is cut at the base after numbing the area with local anesthesia. When done properly, this is painless and can be used to treat several tags in one sitting. Tiny skin tags can typically be removed without anesthesia.
Your doctor can also remove skin tags by freezing them with liquid nitrogen – also called cryosurgery. In this process, liquid nitrogen is used to freeze off the skin tag using a blunt-ended surgical instrument.
Your doctor may remove skin tags by using electrolysis (cauterization). In this process, electric current is used to apply heat. This heat removes the skin tag by burning it off. This is often considered a better way of ensuring that tags will not reappear and electrolysis does not risk leaving a scar, meaning that you can use this option in more visible areas.
Sometimes an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) is consulted to remove skin tags on the eyelid.
These procedures should always be conducted in a sterile environment in the doctor’s office.
At Home Removal of Skin Tags
There are several over-the-counter products, herbal remedies and home treatments for removing skin tags. Results from some of these remedies may take longer than a procedure at the doctor’s office, but they do work, especially on smaller skin tags (the older and larger they get, the harder it becomes to remove them).
Ligation – Probably the most common home treatment for removing skin tags. This is the process of tying off the blood supply to the skin tag with dental floss. Simply take a piece of dental floss and tie around skin tag and tighten it little by little each day. After a day, you should begin to notice the color or look of your tag changing. After several days, it should dry up entirely and fall off.
Nail Clippers or Scissors –Probably the most risky home treatment but you can remove small skin tags by clipping them with scissors or nail clippers. In order to avoid infection, take care to sterilize the clippers and surrounding area of the skin tag with rubbing alcohol. Make the skin numb with an ice cube and gently pull the skin tag away before cutting it off at the base. After removal press the area with sterilized gauze pad until bleeding ceases, then apply an antibiotic.
Over the Counter Treatments – These are readily available and are relatively safe to use. Consider trying:
- Compound W Gel – Traditionally a wart-removal cream, this is often used to treat skin tags.
- Tag Away – A natural herbal blend just for skin tags sold in major discount stores.
Freezing – By using the same OTC product used to freeze away warts, you can also freeze skin tags at home with liquid nitrogen. Follow the manufacturer’s directions. After application, skin tags will fall off anywhere from several days to several weeks.
Vitamin E – Some consider this to be the best home remedy for removing skin tags. Rub vitamin E oil on to the skin tag two times a day. In 1 – 2 weeks the skin tag should fall off. Give this remedy a boost by adding a little garlic to the oil overnight for better results.
Duct Tape – Apply duct tape to the skin tag for 7 days. This smothers the skin tag and will help the skin tag drop off while removing the tape. This method is usually used in mole removal, and it’s an effective natural home remedy for removal of warts too.