Skin tags are pesky little growths that suddenly crop up and then become something that’s hard to ignore, especially if they appear somewhere visible like your face or neck. If you have skin tags, you are not alone. Over 50% of the world’s population will have at least one skin tag in their lifetime. You may have seen these growths appearing and not even know what they are. Knowing a bit about skin tags can help you understand why they may be appearing and how to best deal with them.
Symptoms of Skin Tags
Skin tags are harmless growths that made up of little blood and collagen. They hang from the skin by a thin stalk called a peduncle. Skin tags are usually flesh colored but can also appear darker, especially if they have had their blood supply cut off. These little flaps of skin are usually small, just a couple millimeters in size, but can grow to the size of a cherry. They are most commonly found in the armpit, neck, eyelids, genitals and under breasts. Due to their benign nature, skin tags usually don’t cause any pain and are nothing more than a cosmetic nuisance. In some instances, where the skin tag has been pulled or scratched, it can start to hurt. If this happens, wait for it to heal before trying to remove the skin tag.
What causes skin tags?
There is no singular cause for skin tags. They can appear on different people for different reasons. Knowing the possible causes can help you determine why skin tags are appearing on your body and what they are signalling:
In some cases, skin tags appear for no other reason than a genetic predisposition. In this case, there is no way to really prevent them.
Friction is one of the major contributors to skin tags. Friction plays a role in their appearance and skin tags often form in folds or wrinkles or where skin frequently rubs against other skin, clothes or jewelry.
Hormones have an effect on our skin, so when hormones are out of balance, this may be reflected in our skin. Women experiencing menopause may also start to notice an increase in skin tags as this is when estrogen levels drop and causes the skin to soften and lose elasticity. PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a disorder created by a hormonal imbalance. Women suffering from PCOS may also experience an uptake of skin tags.
One of the side effects of pregnancy that an expectant mother may not be aware of is skin tags. Pregnancy causes a fluctuation of hormone levels and other changes in a woman’s body including weight gain. Skin tags that form during pregnancy will often times fall off on their own or disappear as quickly as they appeared after giving birth.
Gaining excessive weight can cause all sorts of effects on the body. It is one of the most common reasons for skin tags to appear because not only are there new folds on the body that causes chafing that can cause skin tags to appear but the internal effects of weight gain such as hormonal fluctuation, insulin resistance and an increased risk of metabolic syndrome. All of these factors can cause skin tags. Losing excessive weight, and the improvement it makes in your health will go a long way to prevent further skin tags appearing.
Metabolic Syndrome is a combination of a number of conditions, including high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood sugar and extra weight around the abdomen. It is not a disease but a collection of risk factors that can have a severe effect on your health. As many of these individual factors can cause skin tags it has been determined that metabolic syndrome leads to skin tags forming.
Insulin resistance is when the body cannot properly absorb the insulin it makes, this leads to high blood sugar. High blood sugar can cause poor circulation and damage to blood vessels. This can alter the structure of the skin and the formation of collagen, which can cause skin tags. If you notice multiple skin tags appearing suddenly, it is worth checking your blood sugar levels.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The nature of the disease often causes hemorrhoids in those suffering from Crohn’s. Skin tags caused by Crohn’s disease typically form around the anus. When the swelling of hemorrhoids subsides, skin tags can form where the skin was stretched.
Skin tags can appear at any age but become more prevalent in your 40’s and 50’s. As our skin starts to soften and it’s structure changes, we become more susceptible to them.
Removing Skin Tags
Many people choose to remove their skin tags due to their unsightly appearance. There are a number of options available to choose from. Ideally, you should see your doctor about removing your skin tags, so they can be properly diagnosed and removed in a safe and sterile manner. Depending on the size and location of your skin tag, your doctor can usually remove them in their office by either freezing it off with liquid nitrogen, cutting it off with sterile scissors or a scalpel or burning it off using cauterization. Skin tag removal is usually not covered by insurance as it is considered a cosmetic procedure.
Many people choose to remove their skin tags themselves at home, in order to save the costly doctors’ fees. There are a few choices of home removal methods, but pulling or cutting off the skin tag is not one of them and should not be tried at home yourself.
Cutting off the blood supply to the skin tag causes it to shrivel up and fall off. Many people use the dental floss method, whereby they tie a piece of dental floss firmly at the base of the skin tag to ligate it. After a few days, the skin tag will change color and fall off.
There are a number of products available to purchase to freeze a skin tag at home. They are usually applied with a spray or q-tip. The skin tag will usually turn white and then dark and fall off after 4 – 10 days.
Many people today prefer natural remedies for removing their skin tags. Most products work by drying out the skin tag. Tea Tree Oil and Apple Cider vinegar are two of the most popular natural products used to remove skin tags. Other options include garlic, banana peels, castor oil and baking soda.
There is a wide range of topical creams and oils available for removing skin tags. They all work in different ways, with different active ingredients. Their effectiveness depends on the size of the skin tag and your skin type, but many people have had great success with effectively removing their skin tags with these products.