Skin Tags: What Are They and How to Remove Them

skin tagsEvery time you look at the mirror, you noticed that there are small, fresh-colored bumps that appear on your neck, groin or even at your eye lids.

Before you freak out, these bumps, more commonly known as skin tags, are harmless and can be removed through different means.

Find out everything you should know about these bumps, what causes skin tags and tips on how to remove skin tags even at the comfort of your own homes.

What Are Skin Tags?

There are many ways to call a skin tag: acrochordon, soft fibroma, Templeton skin tag or even cutaneous tag. Apparently, one thing remains the same – it is a small, soft balloon of hanging skin. It can either be fresh-colored or darkly pigmented tissue that appears smooth or irregular which is attached on your surrounding skin by a short, narrow stalk called “peduncle.”

Skin tags are made of core of fibres and ducts, nerve cells, fat cells and a covering. They can appear on any part of your body, however, it is more prone on characteristic friction areas where your skin rub against each other such as the eyelids, armpits, under the breast, groin, upper chest, buttock folds or neck. They can range in diameter from 2mm to 1 cm and can go as big as 5cm.

Why Do People Get Skin Tags?

Did you know that millions of people around the globe have reported to have skin tags at some point in their lives? Yes, skin tags affect millions of people so there is no reason for you to feel bad. Apparently, the experts are not quite sure on what exactly are the skin tags causes. Since it is more common in skin creases or folds, experts believe that these bumps are caused by skin rubbing against your skin. Nonetheless, here are the other reasons and risk factors why you can or will have skin tags once in your lifetime.

  • Obesity – If you are on the heavy side, then the excess amount of your weight and skin are more likely to experience friction and folds which can result to skin tags.
  • Genes – Your characteristics and body compositions are greatly affected by the genes you inherited. If you have relatives and family members such as parents, grandparents or siblings who have skin tags, then that means you can have it too.
  • Pregnancy – Pregnancy can bring a lot of unwanted changes in your body. Aside from the risk of developing stretch marks, acne or skin discoloration, pregnancy can give rise to skin tags too. Pregnancy skin tags can be brought my two reasons: the hormones and chemical changes in the body, and the increase of folds and creases which can cause your skin to rub against each other.
  • Illegal use of steroids – Steroids can help your muscles build faster. However, wrong use of this substance can interfere with your body and muscles that causes the collagen fibres in your skin to bond. This can give rise to skin tags.

Who Is More at Risk of Developing Skin Tags?

 According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 46% of the population in the United States have skin tags. Aside from the risk factors mentioned above, there are certain group of people who are more prone to skin tags. They are:

  • Middle-aged and older people – Skin tags are more common after midlife. According to experts, this may be due to too much collagen and blood vessels that are trapped inside thicker bits of skin.
  • Overweight or obese people – They are more prone to creases and folds, causing the skin to rub against each other. They are also at risk of developing diabetes type 2.
  • Those with diabetes – Apparently, skin tags and diabetes go hand in hand.
  • People with human papilloma virus – Some studies say that there is a link between skin tags and low risk forms of HPV, particularly HPV 6 and 11.

When Can Skin Tags Become a Problem?

Generally, skin tags are harmless, painless and do not cause pain or discomfort. In fact, they are benign, meaning not cancerous, and do not require any form of treatment. At the same time, skin tags cannot be associated with any medical conditions or diseases although there are certain groups of people that can be affected such as obese individuals. Usually, those who belong on the heavier side develop a skin condition called acanthosis nigricans wherein tiny bumps are formed in their neck and armpits. This is due to high blood fats and sugar.

However, if your self-esteem is affected and you think that skin tags are an eye soar, or if the skin tags bleed every time it comes in contact with your clothes or jewelry, then you can have it removed with the help of a dermatologist. Just keep in mind that there is a price to pay since removing skin tags is considered a cosmetic surgery.

Still, there are extremely RARE instances where a skin tag becomes cancerous or pre-cancerous. If you noticed that the skin tags bleed, grow or comes in different colors such as pink, brown, red or black, then it might be a sign of skin cancer.

Can You Get Rid of It?

Of course! Thankfully, medicine is continuously evolving and medical experts are always looking for ways to help address all sorts of medical conditions. If the skin tags have become bothersome, here are some of the best medical and home remedies to remove skin tags – and you will be surprised with how a simple scissor or string can do to help you get rid of them.

Home Remedies to Remove Skin Tags

  • The cut and snip method. Did you know that you can remove your skin tags using scissors? Yes, you read that right. This is just one of the traditional ways to remove skin tags at home. Just pull the skin tag slightly with a pair of tweezers and cut it off using sterile scissors even without anaesthesia. There may be some blood so make sure you have a sterile pad on hand. And don’t forget to place a bandage with antibiotic treatment over the affected areas.
  • The string or floss drop. This method is ideal for mild cases of skin tags. All you need to do is to tie a string at the bottom of the skin tag and just leave it there. This can stop the blood flow, which the skin tag needs in order to survive. In just two to three days, the skin tag will fall off. Don’t forget to dab the affected area with an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
  • Look for wart / skin tag removal products. Warts and skin tags are somewhat the same. For some people, using products that are designed for wart removal are effective in removing skin tags. There are also skin tag removal products that can be bought over the counter which you can try. Remember, the results are not instant so patience is really a key.

The good thing about these options is that it can be done at the comfort of your home. However, these methods will only work when skin tags are only in their mild state. If your skin tags affect a larger portion of your body, then read on to find out what cosmetic procedures can do to them.

Medical Options to Get Rid of Skin Tags

  • Freeze it. This does not mean placing an ice over the skin tags. Just like wart removals, skin tags can be removed by freezing it with liquid nitrogen.
  • Burn them. Don’t worry, there is no fire involved in this type of procedure. Thanks to heat, one of the best ways to remove skin tags is by burning it using medical electric cautery or electro-desiccation.
  • Cut it. Again, skin tags live because of the blood flowing into it. If you want to get rid of the tags, then cutting the blood supply, through ligation procedure, can be done.
  • Laser removal of skin tags. If you have large quantities of skin tags or skin tags that come in bigger diameter, then laser removal might be your best option. A numbing anaesthesia can be used to alleviate pain, if any. If you want, quick, safe and instant results, then these cosmetic procedures will do. Keep in mind that these techniques come with a price tag so it is important to have it done only by a licensed dermatologist or ophthalmologist, in case there are skin tags on eyelids.

Also, these procedures are classified as “cosmetic” and most insurance companies do not cover this. However, if you can prove that the reason for removing skin tags is due to medical necessity or suspicious growths, then insurance companies can cover the costs.

Skin tags are generally safe, painless and not contagious. As a matter of fact, the only problem it will cause is your appearance. In some cases, skin tags will fall off on its own while for the others, it may require intervention. Whatever it is, it is important to properly identify these bumps and make sure they are skin tags. While skin tags are safe, there are still instances, although extremely rare, where it can be a sign of something serious. Hence, a trip to the dermatologist won’t hurt.

So the next time you noticed a fresh-colored bump, don’t hesitate to consult. It’s better to make sure that those are really skin tags than regret in the end for not having it checked.

Barbara Komorek

Barbara is the founder and owner of www.leanhealthyandwise.com. She is a former research scientist with a serious passion for health. She enjoys writing about nutrition, wellness and lifestyle and empowering people to take control of their health.