Skin tags: What exactly are they and how to get rid of them!

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If you’ve ever noticed tiny, bulgy growths on your body and wonder what it might be, you probably have a skin tag. Luckily, it isn’t something to worry about.

Skin tags are small and benign soft skin outgrowths. They do not pose any harm or cause pain, but can cause irritation. Various other terms are also used to describe skin tags, such as acrochordon, cutaneous papilloma, and cutaneous tags.

They are much more common in the population than we may expect; up to one in four people have at least one skin tag according to a recent study.

These tags develop on areas of the body that are prone to friction; areas such as the neck and upper chest where clothing tends to rub against the skin, or where skin rubs against skin,  such as the underarm and groin regions. 

The size of these outgrowths vary from just a  few millimeters to 5 centimeters. Warts can look a lot like skin tags if they are small and located deep into the skin. One distinguishing factor is that they may occur in clusters.

Despite the fact that skin tags are harmless, they may still cause a niggling discomfort and give an unpleasant appearance, particularly on areas that are visible like the eyelids or neck.

During shaving, skin tags can cause bleeding. They may become irritated by friction of clothing and jewelry, or if the individual has eczema.

Skin tags are harmless and can be left untreated, they tend to fade away with time. The key reason why an individual would opt for removal treatment is purely for aesthetic purposes.

How do I identify a skin tag?

Skin tags can often be confused for warts. Warts are uncomfortable just like skin tags, they appear slightly bumpy and rough in comparison. But unlike skin tags, they are likely to be level against the skin and are hardly ever raised over.

It is important you know the difference and be able to distinguish between a wart and a skin tag. If you have a wart, you may end up with a region of more warts, as they are contagious and can spread rapidly. If they grow in size, you may be required to take over-the counter medications.

On the contrary, skin tags are oval-shaped, outgrown parts of normal skin that appear like they are attached through a stalk. If you touch a skin tag, they can feel a little tender.

Skin tags do not require ongoing monitoring. In a very small number of cases, your dermatologist may recommend that a skin tag be removed and tested for certain skin problems that appear similar to skin tags. This may include moles, non-cancerous skin growths (seborrheic keratosis), and warts.  

Skin tags typically occur in the following areas:

  • Underarms
  • Neck
  • Upper chest
  • Groin area
  • Eyelids (very rare)

Should I see a doctor if I have a skin tag?

Skin tags don’t pose any health risks, but they can be prickly at times, especially if they rub against clothes. The only time you should be visiting a doctor is if your skin tag changes color, becomes very irritating, or grows larger.

Removal of skin tags is mostly for cosmetic reasons since some people might not like the way they look on their skin.

Home Remedies for Skin Tags

The good news is that you don’t even have to visit the doctors to remove them! Here are some easy remedies that you can try at home.

Apple cider vinegar: Before you go to sleep, soak a cotton ball in Apple cider vinegar and apply it to the tag. Cover it using a bandage and remove it in the morning.

The baking soda and castor oil paste: This mixture is also helpful in the removal of skin tags. Soak a cotton ball the same way as with apple cider vinegar but only for a few hours. Repeat three days in a row.

Tea tree oil: Proven to be effective for several skin care issues, tea tree oil also helps in curing skin tags. Soak a cotton ball in some water, trickle a few drops of tea tree oil on it, and apply it to the skin tag. Leave for a few hours. Repeat this procedure for the few days.

Medical Treatments for Skin Tag Removal

Various remedies can help get quick relief from skin tag irritation. Treatment options for skin tags involve their physical removal.

Options include:

  • Cryotherapy: Skin tags are frozen off using liquid nitrogen. This method is safe and effective to cure both small and large tags. This treatment procedure can only be performed in the clinic. It uses a cold temperature probe or pen that is applied onto the tags. With brief cycles of freezing and liquefying, blood supply to the skin tags is stopped. If the tags is positioned on the eyelid, an ophthalmologist or eye doctor may be consulted.
  • Ligation: Blood supply to skin tags is halted by binding the stalk. The doctor ties off the bottom of the skin tag to cut off it’s blood flow. After a couple of weeks, the skin tag dies and falls off.
  • Excision: Another way to remove skin tags is to remove them using a scalpel. The doctor will first numb the area, and then cut off the skin tag with a scalpel or special medical scissors.

Is there any way I can prevent skin tags from appearing in the first place?

It is not possible to completely prevent the development of skin tags, although you can lower the chances of getting one by maintaining a healthy weight. Other prevention tips include:

  • Follow a diet plan that contains meals low in saturated fat and calories.
  • Perform exercise at medium, or high intensity for 20-30 minutes a day.
  • Avoid clothing or jewelry that irritates your skin.

Takeaway Points

  • Skin tags are harmless, but they can be annoying and you might want to have them removed for aesthetic reasons.
  • If your skin tag shows any unexpected changes, you should visit your doctor for medical attention.
  • If your skin tags don’t trouble you at all, you might not even need to remove them. But if you do decide to get rid of them, a skin care specialist can treat them surgically or by freezing them off (cryotherapy).
  • Home remedies also prove to be really good solutions when it comes to getting rid of skin tags. Apple cider vinegar, baking soda and tea tree oil, among other everyday ingredients, can work wonders.

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