Struggling with skin tags? Learn how to identify them, what causes them, and how to get rid of them.
What are skin tags?
A skin tag, also known as acrochordon or cutaneous papilloma, is a small piece of soft, hanging skin. It may have a peduncle or stalk. Usually flesh-coloured or slightly brownish, they can range in size from one millimetre to one centimetre, or larger. Skin tags are very common and affect almost half of the population.
There’s nothing to worry about if you have a skin tag as these are benign, noncancerous tumours of the skin. They are normally painless, but if snagged by jewellery or clothing, a skin tag causes some discomfort.
You can develop skin tags in multiple areas, including:
- Under the breasts
- Upper chest
What are the major skin tag causes?
So what are the main skin tag causes? Unfortunately, the exact cause of skin tag formation is not known. However, one of the top skin tag causes could be when clusters of collagen and blood arteries become caught inside thicker portions of the skin. Since they usually show up in skin folds, friction could be another one of the major skin tag causes.
According to a study conducted in 2021, the human papillomavirus could also be one of the major skin tag causes. The study shows that there’s a direct link between the human papillomavirus (HPV) and skin tags.
Insulin resistance, which may lead to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, is also among some of the common skin tag causes.
Skin tags affect both males and females equally. However, these factors make you more susceptible:
- Family history of skin tags
- Metabolic syndrome
- Dyslipidemia, for example, high cholesterol levels
- Hypertension, or high blood pressure
How to remove skin tags?
While skin tags are largely harmless, you can consider skin tag removal for cosmetic or aesthetic reasons. Large skin tags, when they rub against jewellery and clothing can cause pain and irritation. This is another reason why people opt for skin tag removal.
Skin tag removal is not a daunting task as there are a lot of simple and quick skin tag removal procedures available in the market. It is important to note that if you want to remove skin tags on or around eyelids, an ophthalmologist, or speciality eye doctor, may need to remove those, particularly the ones near the eyelid margin.
Here are some of the common skin tag removal techniques that you can consider:
- Over-the-counter options
There are a few over-the-counter skin tag removal options available in the market. However, it is advisable that you get these removed from a trained professional or a dermatologist. Here are some of the over-the-counter options that can be effective for short term use:
- Freezing kits: These kits work by freezing the skin tag. It falls off in seven to ten days.
- Skin tag removal patches: Skin tag patches are an over-the-counter solution that claims to remove skin tags quickly and easily at home.
- Surgical skin tag removal procedures
When going for surgical skin tag removal, the following procedures may be used:
- Cauterization: In this skin tag removal method, the skin tag is burned off with cautery. This causes your skin tag to fall off.
- Cryosurgery: In this procedure, the skin tag is frozen off at the base using a probe containing liquid nitrogen, causing the skin tag to fall off.
- Ligation: In this skin tag removal procedure, a suture is tied around the base of the skin tag. The blood supply to the skin tag is interrupted until the skin tag falls off.
- Excision: Your dermatologist uses a scalpel for skin tag removal.