Skin tags are typically harmless and do not cause any pain or discomfort. However, some people may feel self-conscious about their appearance and choose to remove them for cosmetic reasons.
Here’s a brief overview of what exactly is a skin tag and some popular methods for removal:
What Are Skin Tags?
Skin tags are tiny, benign growths that can form on the skin. They typically measure between 1-5 millimeters in size and have a narrow stalk connecting them to the surrounding skin. These skin issues are made up of loose collagen fibers and blood vessels surrounded by epithelial cells.
They are usually found in areas of the body where there is friction, such as the neck, armpits, or groin. Overweight or obese people and those who are pregnant are more prone to skin tags.
They often look like tiny pieces of “hanging” skin and tend to have a wrinkled appearance. They can be the same color as your skin, or they may be darker.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Skin Tags
Skin tags are often painless and do not cause any symptoms. However, some people may experience mild discomfort if the skin tag is located in an area where it rubs against clothing or other objects.
If you have a skin tag, you may notice:
- A small growth on your skin that’s connected by a thin stalk
- A smooth, domed surface
- Flesh-colored or slightly darker skin
- A growth that’s less than 1 centimeter in diameter
- Flesh-colored or slightly darker skin
Causes of Skin Tags
The root cause of skin tags is still unknown. However, they’re thought to be related to friction or skin rubbing against skin. This could explain why they’re often found in areas where the skin creases or rubs together, such as the neck, groin, and underarms.
You can see them more in people who are overweight or have diabetes. This could be because excess weight puts additional strain on the skin, leading to friction and subsequent skin tags.
Skin tags are relatively common, like other minor skin disorders such as spider and reticular veins. It’s estimated that 50 to 60% of all adults will develop at least one skin tag in their lifetime.
How to Remove Skin Tags
There are a few ways to remove skin tags, but some are more effective than others, including:
- Home remedies: Some people opt for home remedies to remove their skin tags. This includes using over-the-counter treatments, such as wart removers. However, you should note that these products are not specifically designed for skin tag removal and can cause irritation or other side effects.
- Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy is a treatment that uses freezing temperatures to destroy tissue. It’s sometimes used to remove warts but can also be effective for skin tags. During cryotherapy, the skin tag is exposed to extremely cold liquid nitrogen. This causes the tissue to freeze and eventually fall off.
- Cautery: Cautery is a process that uses heat to destroy tissue. An electric current passes through a metal rod to create heat, which is then used to sear the skin tag. This process destroys the tissue and causes it to fall off.
- Ligation: Ligation is a process that involves tying off the blood supply to the skin tag. This can be done with a surgical thread or other types of string. Once the blood supply has been cut off, the skin tag will eventually fall off on its own.
- Surgery: Surgery is usually reserved for larger skin tags that are difficult to remove with other methods. Your physician will make a tiny incision in your skin and remove the skin tag. Like dermatofibroma treatment and other skin problem surgeries, skin tag removal surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia.
Home Remedies to Remove Skin Tags
Some home remedies can be used to remove skin tags. However, it’s important to note that these are not backed by scientific evidence and may not be effective.
- Tea tree oil: This essential oil has been shown to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. In some cases, it is used as a natural remedy for acne, dandruff, and other skin conditions. Apply a few drops to the affected area with a cotton swab twice daily to use tea tree oil for skin tags.
- Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for many conditions, including skin disorders. Some people believe that apple cider vinegar’s acidic nature helps dry out and remove skin tags. Apply a little amount to the affected area using cotton balls at least three times daily.
- Banana peel: Banana peels are often used as a natural remedy for warts. Some people believe that the same properties that make banana peels effective for warts can also be used to remove skin tags. To use banana peels for skin tags, place a small piece of peel over the affected spot and secure it in place with a bandage. Leave it on overnight and repeat nightly until the skin tag falls off.
- Compress: Soak a clean cloth in warm water and apply it to the skin tag for 15 minutes. Repeat this process three to four times a day until the skin tag falls off.
When to See a Doctor
In most cases, skin tags don’t require medical attention, as opposed to melanoma which needs melanoma surgery. However, you should see a doctor if:
- Your skin tag forms in an area where it’s constantly being irritated by clothing or jewelry.
- You have diabetes or another condition causing changes in your skin.
- You notice signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus.
- You have a skin cancer family history.
If you’re unsure whether a growth on your skin is a skin tag or something else, it’s always safe to see a doctor for an evaluation.
Skin tags are common, harmless growths on the skin. In most cases, they don’t require treatment. However, some people choose to remove skin tags for cosmetic reasons. Talk to your doctor before trying any home remedies, as they may not be effective and could cause irritation.
Also, choose experienced clinics, such as Toronto Minor Surgery Center (TMSC), for any skin tag removal procedures. They will minimize the risk of complications and ensure optimal results. Choose from Toronto Minor Surgery Center skin tag treatment options that are safe and effective.