The term skin tag is used to describe harmless, painless, soft, skin-colored benign growths that form within the skin folds of some body parts such as the armpit, breasts, eyelids, groin, and the neck. Skin tags are loose collagen fibers that contain blood vessels. These growths become fixed within the thicker parts of the skin. It occurs mostly in older adults, overweight persons, diabetics, and sometimes in pregnant women. Medically, skin tags cause no complications whatsoever.
Although harmless, people may want to remove a skin tag for reasons such as:
- cosmetic reasons,
- skin tags can be a bother, especially when it is tugged at or snagged on clothing or a piece of jewelry, as this could cause some form of pain.
To get relief, there are several over-the-counter products, home remedies, and surgical options to remove skin tags. The article looks into how to remove these skin tags effectively.
Causes of Skin Tags
The cause of skin tags is uncertain, but their formation has been linked to friction due to their formation within skin folds. It may even be a result of genetics because it can occur in several family members.
Studies show that Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity are also causes of skin tags. Constant irritation is a leading cause, and this is mostly seen in obese individuals who often have excess skin folds.
They happen to males and females, but often during pregnancy and to people with hormonal imbalances, hyperinsulinemia, etc.
Home Remedies for Skin Tag Removal
Skin tags can be removed without consulting a doctor. However, doctors advise against removing a skin tag without proper consultation. Simple home remedies have been made to help get rid of these skin tags. They mostly involve drying the skin tags, which leads to them falling off after they must have shrunk in size. Some popular home remedies are discussed below.
- Tea Tree Oil – The tea tree oil remedy is diluted in a carrier oil applied on the skin in diluted quantities. It has antiviral and antifungal properties. It may irritate sensitive skin and should be used with caution.
Application – The affected area is washed first, after which a clean cotton swab is used to apply the oil on the skin tag by gently massaging the affected area. After the application, a bandage is used to cover the area overnight. The procedure is repeated for several nights to ensure that the tag dries and falls off for effective results.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – An apple cider vinegar has acidic properties that may cause burns. As a result, the application should stop if there is any reaction or irritation to the skin. Its acidity will cause the skin tag to break down the tissue around the skin tag.
Application – A clean cotton swab is used to soak up the apple cider vinegar. Then the swab is placed on the skin tag. A bandage is then used to cover up the area for about 10 – 20 minutes, after which the skin is washed off. The procedure is repeated consistently for a few weeks.
- Banana Peel – Though we consider banana peels as waste, they have antioxidant properties. The banana peel can dry out a skin tag.
Application – On the skin tag, place a piece of banana peel and use a bandage to cover it up. This can be done at night continuously until the skin tag comes off.
- Vitamin E – Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties that combat wrinkles on the skin by helping to keep the skin healthy. Skin tags may sometimes result from aging.
Application – Clean the affected area, then gently apply liquid vitamin E on the skin tag and the affected part of the skin. Repeat the procedure for a couple of days until the skin tag falls off.
- Garlic – Garlic is a herb that has antibiotic and immune-boosting properties. Applying garlic to the skin enhances its appearance by reducing the inflammation of the skin tags.
Application – A piece of garlic is crushed and applied over the surrounding area of the skin tag and the skin tag. The area is covered overnight with a bandage, and the garlic is washed off in the morning. The procedure is repeated until the skin tag falls off.
Over-the-counter products refer to drugs purchased from the grocery or drugstores without the prescription of a health care professional. Various over-the-counter products can be used alongside home remedies to remove skin tags. For example, freezing kits can be used at extremely low temperatures (cryotherapy) to eliminate skin tags and unwanted skin tissue.
Other over-the-counter products include:
- Skin tag patch – This can be placed on a skin tag, after which once it is removed, the skin tag will come off with it. It may cause some skin irritations.
- Skin tag removal cream – This may also cause irritations to the skin.
Picture courtesy: Bright side
Sometimes, it is advised to see a doctor when you notice skin tags because skin tags can be mistaken as warts and moles because they look alike. Some moles are cancerous, and if mistakenly injured, they can cause some issues. Though noncancerous, some skin tags may be unusual and need a doctor to examine them, usually by performing a biopsy. If a skin tag is located in a sensitive area or around the eye, painful or large, one should also seek professional help for its removal.
The removal of skin tags by conducting surgery is an outpatient procedure that requires making the affected part of the skin numb with a local anesthetic. Then depending on the size and location of the skin tag, the doctor will perform one of the procedures below.
- Surgery: The surgical procedure requires using ta surgical scissors to cut off the skin tag from its base.
- Cauterization: This involves removing the skin tag with the application of heat or burning it off.
- Electrocautery: This procedure involves using a specialized electric current to burn off the skin tag.
- Ligation: Sometimes, all that is required to cause the removal of a skin tag is cutting off the supply of blood to it. This is what ligation is about. It involves using a surgical thread to tie around the tag, leading to it falling off.
- Cryosurgery: A small quantity of liquid nitrogen is employed by spraying it over the skin tag. This will lead to the freezing of the skin tag.
Picture courtesy: manhattandermatologistsnyc
Complications of Skin Tag Removal
Removing skin tags comes with little or no risk, especially where it is small. However, in rare cases where it needs to be surgically removed, severe bleeding is a cause for concern. It is mostly seen when removing large skin tags and employing a non-professional. Without proper cauterization and monitoring, a skin tag with large vascularization can bleed out.
There is also the risk of infection and pain. Without proper wound management and hygiene, opportunistic bacteria can access the wound and infect it. The resultant infection can even progress to a fever.
Trying to remove a skin tag at home also exposes one to scarring and the possibility of incomplete removal. Hence, the skin tag is likely to grow back.
Care of the Skin After the Skin Tag Removal
It is uncommon for a person to develop infections or any form of complications after a skin tag removal. However, the appearance of a scar that will vanish over time will be observed. An antibiotic ointment should be applied on the area of the skin the tag was removed from, and it should be covered with a bandage to reduce the chances of developing an infection. If, for any reason, the area of the skin bleeds or becomes painful, the individual should see a doctor.
If a medical procedure removes the skin tag, it is important to follow the doctor’s instructions to prevent infection. The doctor may also fix an appointment for a later date to check on the skin area the tag was removed.
Finally, as stated earlier, skin tags have no medical complications or implications and should not be a cause for concern. A health care professional should be consulted to confirm if the skin tag is benign, especially if it looks unusual. Skin tags do not come back after removal, but one may appear on another part of the skin in a few cases.
- Can you safely remove a skin tag yourself?
Health care professionals do not recommend removing skin tags yourself to prevent improper removal. However, there are several home remedies and over-the-products that can be used to remove skin tags.
- Do skin tags grow back after removal?
No, skin tags do not grow back after complete removal.
- What are skin tags caused by?
It is uncertain what causes skin tags. However, it may occur as a result of trapped blood vessels and clusters of collagen within areas of thick skin.
- Can skin tags turn cancerous?
Skin tags are benign growths with no medical complications, and as a result, they can not become cancerous if left untreated or uncut. It may become precancerous or cancerous in very, extremely rare cases.
- Why am I getting skin tags all of a sudden?
Skin tags usually develop with age and may develop skin rubs against itself due to friction. They can also occur if one is overweight. If so, they will appear within the folds of skin.