They look weird. Sometimes they can be awkward and even a little embarrassing. But should you be worried about skin tags?
If you’ve got skin tags, the first thing you should realize is they are extremely common.
In almost all cases, people with skin tags have nothing to worry about. They are benign and they are not contagious. Plus, the majority of people worldwide will get at least one skin tag during their life – although some may get hundreds.
So what’s the deal with these little things? Let’s take a closer look.
What Are Skin Tags?
Skin tags are small growths that are most-often found on the groin, the neck, armpits and sometimes eyelids – although they can appear anywhere on your body. In general, skin tags tend to form in areas where the skin creates creases.
The scientific names for skin tags are acrochorda or fibroepithelial polyps. They are made up of a cluster of fibers and ducts, nerve cells and fat cells with a covering of skin – or an epidermis.
Usually, they are about the size of a grain of rice or even smaller, but some can get to be as long as half-an-inch.
They can be about the same color as your normal skin or a little darker.
Skin tags are actually tiny tumors. As we’ve already mentioned they are almost always benign. In some rare cases, a doctor may want to biopsy an abnormal skin tag – especially if it is bleeding. But even that is usually only precautionary.
Some people may get skin tags and never even realize it. They can hide somewhere on your body and rub away or fall off before you notice.
What Causes Skin Tags?
The truth is, health experts are not exactly sure. That does seem a bit concerning – because if you don’t know why something happens – how do you really know it isn’t harmful or a sign of something more serious? Still most research indicates they are usually harmless – so you shouldn’t lose any sleep over your skin tags.
Because of the fact that skin tags commonly form in areas where skin rubs together – there is a theory that friction (skin rubbing together) may be the primary cause of these growths.
People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop skin tags. It’s believed that is due to excess folds in the skin, which causes more friction. You’re more likely to find skin tags on your body as you get older, so age may be another factor.
People with Crohn’s disease have been known to be more susceptible to getting skin tags. High blood sugar may also make people more likely to develop skin tags.
In addition, it is thought that hormones could play a role. Pregnant women seem to be more likely to get skin tags as are people taking illegal steroids. In both these cases, people experience elevated hormone levels.
Finally, it does seem there is a genetic susceptibility. If your parents had skin tags, you may be more likely to get them as well.
Still – the exact reason why these little growths pop up on our bodies is a mystery.
Skin Tag Myths
There are some common misconceptions about skin tags:
- Skin tags are a sign of cancer – FALSE
- Removing a skin tag causes more to grow – FALSE
- Removing skin tags causes scarring – FALSE
- Skin tags are contagious like warts – FALSE
- Skin tags occur only in the elderly – FALSE
- Skin tags must be treated as soon as possible – FALSE
- Skin tags are painful and itchy – FALSE
The truth about skin tags is that they are usually no more than an unsightly inconvenience. You do not have to get them removed.
Many people do choose to remove them for cosmetic reasons, or because they can be uncomfortable – sometimes getting snagged on jewelery or by zippers.
If you do remove skin tags, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting scars because they are only growths on your skin and not an actual part of your skin.
Things You May Want to Watch
Since skin tags are sometimes associated with elevated blood glucose, they may be a sign of pre-diabetes and could be a warning sign for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. It’s not known why high blood sugar seems to cause this to happen. But it may be wise to have a healthcare practitioner check your for other signs of diabetes if you have problems with skin tags.
In certain cases, skin tags have been an indication of low-risk forms of HPV or the human papiloma virus. A 2008 study found the virus in 48.6% of the lesions researchers examined. Skin tags are associated with HPV 6 and HPV 11, which can cause genital warts, but are rarely associated with cancer.
There is a skin condition that appears similar to skin tags, but is actually a viral infection known as molluscum contagiosum or MC. These lesions are sometimes called “water warts.”
That sort of infection is most common in children 10 and younger. So if you have a child you think has skin tags – you may want to ask your pediatrician if it is actually MC. Usually the infection can be managed and it will likely clear up in less than a year.
How to Get Rid of Skin Tags
Much of the information you’ll read online about skin tag removal tells you not to try and do it yourself. This is mostly because of the risk for causing an infection.
The fact is, I know people with doctors who have told them it is fine to remove your own skin tags. Just make sure you keep things clean and covered while the healing process takes place.
If you do ask your doctor to remove skin tags, there are a few common methods that may be used:
- Surgical removal – cutting them off with scissors or a laser
- Cauterization – burning them off with an electrical current
- Cryotherapy – freezing them off
Simply snipping the skin tags away is the most-usual method. It is practically painless, and there is minimal bleeding. Most people don’t even get any anesthetic.
If cutting or strangling your skin tags away makes you a little squeamish – and you’d rather not pay your doctor to deal with them – there are some other options as well.
A popular product you can find at Natural Healthy Concepts is a homeopathic remedy for skin tag relief. King Bio offers its Skin Tag Remover as an option that has only natural ingredients.
It is a liquid you apply with a brush applicator a few times a day. After 3 to 6 weeks the tags on your skin should dry up and flake off.
Another natural product that could help remove skin tags is tea tree oil – like the products from Tea Tree Therapy.
Use a cotton ball wettened with water and a few drops of tea tree oil. Then rub the cotton in a circular motion around your skin tags. If you apply it a couple times a day, your skin tags could disappear in as little as one week. (Note – this product should not be used near the eyes)
There are other DIY tricks to get rid of skin tags including the use of things lke banana peels, apple cider vinegar, onion juice and castor oil. Most of these home remedies take quite some time – but you can read more about them at FitLife.TV.
You may have heard of people covering skin tags in nail polish to get rid of them. The problem with that is you’d be putting potentially toxic chemicals on your skin, and those chemicals would be absorbed directly into your bloodstream.
If you try the nail polish method, consider using non-toxic Zoya Nail polish – available in our online store with free shipping.