What exactly are skin tags and how do you get rid of them? A skin tag (sometimes referred as “skin tab”) is basically a small piece of hanging skin. This hanging skin sometimes have a stalk (known as peduncle). Skin tags can be found just about anywhere on the surface of the body even though they are commonly found on the eyelids, underneath the arms, chest area, genitals, under the breast, and the neck.
They are non-cancerous tumors formed on top of the skin and often times produce no symptoms, unless they are aggravated through rubbing or scratching, which can be caused by the type of clothing a person wears or the jewelry they have on. Skin tags can also be aggravated when shaving.
Some people are more prone on getting skin tags if they are overweight, if a member of their family had it, or for other reasons that are not known. They can also occur during pregnancy or on people with diabetes. Skin tags affect both men and women equally, showing no favoritism on either sex.
Many people have skin tags and don’t even know it or noticed them. The tags may have either been rubbed or fallen off—although the possibility of them fallen off is very unlikely.
The surface of the skin tag may look smooth or wrinkly and many times brought up from the surface of the skin and hanging from the stalks. They may be the same pigment as the skin or a little brown in color. There are a few occasions where the tag becomes changes color such as purple or black and becomes irritated. This happens when there isn’t sufficient blood supply. A clotted skin tag is will generally fall off within two weeks and don’t require any medical attention.
Be sure to touch base with a skin specialist if the tag changes color or bleed for thorough evaluation and encouragement that there is nothing to be concerned about. It is very seldom that a clotted skin tag may be an underlying conditioned and need to be sampled.
When the tags are first formed, they are very small and flat. Over time they enlarge and can range anywhere from 1mm to 2cm; some can be as large 6cm. Because skin tags are mostly found in the folds of the skin, it is believed that this is what causes them—skin rubbing against skin.
Cause of skin tags
More people nowadays are developing skin tags and they usually occur past the age of 55. As noted earlier, it is believed to be caused by skin friction. This is the reason they are mainly hiding under skin creases or folds. Skin tags can also develop in children especially babies who are chunky where the skin is constantly rubbing against each other.
Risk factors for developing skin tags include:
- Obesity and overweight because people in this category tend to have more skin crease and folds
- Women who are pregnant—this is usually because of hormones that are stashed which is usually around the second trimester of pregnancy.
- People with diabetes
- Illegal use of steroids—not only does this mess up the muscles in the body but it also cause the collagen fibers in the skin to fastened, creating the perfect environment for skin tags to develop.
- Those with Crohn’s disease often times have skin tags around the anal opening
How to remove skin tags at home
Tea tree oil - This oil is by far the best way to remove skin tags. What you want to do is dilute some tea tree oil in water and wet a cotton ball with this mixture and gently rub it in circular motions three times daily until the skin tag vanishes.
Apple cider vinegar- This is the best treatment for skin tags on the neck. Drench a cotton ball in the solution and put it over the skin tag. Do this every day for at least a month until you see results.
Juice of onion - Chop up some onions and leave it in a container that has salt overnight. In the morning, you will be able to extract the juice of the onion. Apply the onion juice onto the skin tag every night before going to bed and it will remove the skin tag in about two weeks.
Castor oil and baking soda mixture- This remedy is very effective at removing skin tags. Combine some castor oil and baking soda together into a thick paste. Dab the paste onto the tag and cover it up at night before going to bed. In the morning, rinse. Repeat this process for two weeks and the skin tag should vanish.
Pineapple juice - This is a very simple way to remove skin tags. Gently rub pineapple juice onto the skin tag every couple of days but don’t rinse it off. Repeat this for at least two weeks until the skin tag falls off.
Garlic - The garlic can be applied directly onto the skin tag twice a day. Make sure a fresh garlic is used each time. Do this for at least two weeks until the skin tag vanishes.
Duct tape - Cover the skin tag up with a duct and do this for two weeks until it is removed.
Ginger - Ginger can be applied to the skin tag directly for two weeks until the skin tag is completely removed. Do this at least two times a day.
Potato - Covering the skin tag with a piece of potato for a few days will help to dry it off and remove it.
Tying skin tags with a string- This is a very common method used to remove skin tags. Tie a dental floss around the tag tightly and cut it off with scissors or a nail clipper. This way of removing the tag is not painful at all. Be sure to sterilize the scissor or nail clipper before use to prevent an infection.
Banana peels- Apply a small piece of banana peel onto the skin tag and cover it up with a band aid. Sleep with this on at night, every night for a couple weeks until the skin tag disappears.
Medical ways to remove a skin tag
Besides trying at home remedies, skin tags can be removed by freezing them (using liquid nitrogen) or burning them (this is done at your doctor’s office). Many times, the use of anesthesia is not needed when dealing with small tags. The larger ones may need some local anesthesia before removal. Your dermatologist may apply an anesthesia cream such as LMX 5% on areas that have a lot of tags.
The type of doctors who are able to treat the tags include family physicians, dermatologists, and internal medicine physicians. Often times, an ophthalmologist may step in to remove skin tags on the eyelids.
When considering freezing or burning, there are some risks that includes skin discolorations, the need for multiple treatments, or failure for the skin tag to ever fall off.
Reoccurrence of skin tags after removal
It has not been confirmed whether removing a skin tag will cause more to grow and spread out. There is no evidence to suggest that the tags will spread once they are removed. In actuality, people are just naturally more susceptible of developing them and may have new ones formed regularly. Some people need constant removal of the tags on a quarterly or annual basis.