Skin tags are harmless and benign but are bothersome to many patients because they can certainly affect a person’s aesthetics. These small folds of skin look like little bumps, and while they seem harmless, they have a tendency to form in very visible areas, such as the folds of the neck, eyelids, ears, and armpits, as well as other parts of the body. Read on to learn more about skin tags, what their causes are, and how to use home remedies that may work to remove these tags.
What Are Skin Tags?
Skin tags are small growths that may look like a small balloon. They are not pimples or harmful growths and are completely harmless. Also known as skin tabs, the scientific name for skin tags is acrochordon. Most skin tags are small in diameter, especially early on after they appear. The majority of skin tags fall between 2 to 5 mm in diameter, but larger ones can be as massive as 1 to 5 cm in diameter, depending on their placement.
Like many conditions, doctors and dermatologists are not completely certain why skin tags occur. However, they seem to be more prevalent in those who are obese and those who suffer from type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Technically, skin tags can occur anywhere on the body, but they are most common in or around armpits, eyelids, folds of the neck, under the female breast, groin folds, and buttock folds. It is thought that skin tags occur more commonly where skin rubs together with other skin (such as in the folds). Both men and women are equally prone to the development of skin tags. Skin tags can also develop in children and are most notable on or around the eyelid. This condition may be caused by a child repeatedly rubbing his or her eye. Age is also a factor—you are more likely to develop a skin tag after the age of 60. Hormonal changes during periods of life, such as pregnancy, may also be a factor.
Home Remedies for Skin Tags
There are a few reasons why a patient would be interested in skin tag removal. Depending on their placement, skin tags can be very noticeable. In addition, when they brush up or bump against clothing or accessories, this can cause pain or discomfort. Because skin tags are so harmless, there are a few home remedies patients can try for successful skin tag removal. Some of these include:
- Tea tree oil. This essential oil should dry out the skin that is causing the tag after several days of application. Dip a Q-tip or cotton ball in the oil, and apply it to the affected area prior to bed.
- Garlic. Garlic is also thought to shrink a skin tag. After washing the affected area, apply garlic to it before bedtime. In the morning, wash the garlic away. Repeat until the skin tag disappears.
- Apple cider vinegar. Apply apple cider vinegar to the affected area, using a cotton swab or cotton ball, for several weeks. The acidity of the vinegar should break down the tag.
- Banana peels. Cut a small piece of banana peel, and place it over the skin tag. Cover it with a bandage. This may take several weeks to work, but the skin tag should fall off.
- Vitamin E oil. Often used in skin care, you can dab a bit of vitamin E on the skin tag and the surrounding area. Sometimes, this can cause the skin tag to fall off after several days.
Skin Tag Removal
The previous list contained suggestions for home remedies to remove skin tags. However, there are other ways to remove a skin tag at home. Skin tag removal kits are commonly sold online and in stores. These kits use a process called ligation to cut off the supply of blood to the tag. Like other home remedies or procedures, this should cause the skin tag to fall off within 10 days or so.
Freezing is another method of skin tag removal at home. These kits contain liquid nitrogen, which you apply to the skin tag. Like other methods, this will take a few days up to several weeks to work. It is possible also to find skin tag removal cream. This type of method usually only requires one application, but the skin tag may not fall off for two to three weeks.
Cutting is another method; however, this may not be completely safe and should not be attempted without consulting a physician first. If your doctor believes your skin tag is small enough to be cut by yourself at home, they will explain the process. This should only be attempted with very small skin tags using sterilized scissors, or bleeding and infection may occur.
When Home Remedies Are Not Appropriate
There are some situations in which no type of home remedy is appropriate, whether it be a simple remedy using oil or a more complicated procedure using an over-the-counter kit. Home remedies are often not appropriate if the skin tag is very large. In cases of larger skin tags that are more than a few millimeters, a doctor or a dermatology professional should be consulted. You should also not attempt to remove a skin tag that is located on the eyelid or on or near the genitals. These types of skin tags are simply too close to sensitive areas, and if home remedies or procedures are carried out incorrectly, the results could be disastrous.
Also, if a skin tag is itchy, extremely painful, or bleeding, you should seek advice from a medical professional.
Surgical Procedures for Skin Tags
If your skin tag is inflamed, close to sensitive areas, or is extremely large, it should be examined by a dermatologist or other medical professional. It is important to note that in most cases, skin tags are completely benign, and are different than warts. Warts are small growths that contain human papillomavirus (HPV), however, the professional treatment for warts and skin tags is very similar. If malignancy or infection is suspected, the doctor may take a small biopsy to be sent for testing. Skin tags are typically professionally removed in one of four ways:
- Cryotherapy. Using this method, the dermatologist or other dermatology professional will apply liquid nitrogen directly to the skin tag. This method is also known as freezing and can be performed over the counter at home.
- Excision. This is a simple method by which the professional cuts off the skin tag.
- Ligation. This method is similar to over-the-counter kits that patients may purchase. The physician will use a small thread to tie off the skin tag by itself, which restricts its blood flow.
- Cauterization. Using this method, the skin tag is burned off. This is not painful and typically requires only one to two treatments to be successful.
You should seek medical attention right away if you have a skin tag that noticeably changes. For example, a skin tag that suddenly bleeds, becomes itchy, changes size or shape, or changes color should be evaluated by your physician. A skin tag that changes black or purplish in color may be ready to fall off, but it could also be something more serious. In these cases, stop applying home remedies or using home procedures if you have been doing so, and seek medical care.
If you need more information on skin tags or their removal or would like to be seen by a physician, stop in at one of our many TrustCare clinics today. Our walk-in urgent care facilities are state-of-the-art and our attentive staff will quickly assist you to help you Feel Better Faster™.