Everything you need to know about skin tags

Skin tags are small growths on the skin that look like warts and moles.  The size is often 2-5 cm and flesh or dark colored.  They are harmless and grow on the neck, armpits, buttocks, groin, under the breasts, upper chest, and eyelids. They can be annoying and embarrassing for men and women. Those middle aged and overweight are more likely to develop them. They should be removed by a dermatologist for safety reasons.

They often develop when skin rubs against itself or against clothing Children often get them on their eyelids, neck, and underarms from sports and rubbing their skin. Skin tags occur primarily in adults and during pregnancy in women due to hormones.  Skin tags are not usually associated with any viruses.

Many patients have them removed for cosmetic reasons or because they become irritated by clothing or skin. Most doctors will often diagnose the condition by looking at the skin. They might perform a biopsy and send the skin to the lab to rule out cancer or other causes. How to remove skin tags is a question to ask your dermatologist.

Ways to Remove Skin Tags

Freezing Skin Tags Off

The dermatologist uses liquid nitrogen to freeze skin tags off. It is called cyrotherapy and often a cotton swab or spray is used to treat the skin tags. Only a mild stinging sensation is felt by the patient. After treatment the scab will take some time to fall off. When it does it heals quickly. This procedure can be costly if you have large skin tags. Sometime the doctor will prescribe silicone gel sheets or gel for skin tags after the procedure. This helps with healing and scarring.

Cutting Off The Tags

The doctor will numb the area and remove the skin tags with a scalpel or other tool. The doctor knows how to prevent serious bleeding and scarring. After your skin tag has fallen off your doctor will often recommend creams or silicone gel to help with scarring and healing.

Burning Off Skin Tags

Your dermatologist will burn off the skin tag using an electric current on a pen or tool. Often they numb the area before proceeding. The devices they use to burn the skin tags gets very hot but often the skin tag never returns.  There is very little blood or minimal with this procedure. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic ointment or silicone sheets or gel for healing the scars.

The doctor cleans the area very thoroughly. The doctor will heat up the pen or tool and possibly numb the area.  Using a tweezers to isolate your skin tag they find the stalk and apply the hot needle. The doctor will remove all the skin tags for you safely.

Chemical Peels and Tying Off Skin Tags

Some doctors will use chemical peels to remove skin tags using trichloroacetic acid. It peels off layers of skin one at a time. The patient may have to go back for a few visits depending on their sizes of the skin tag.  Some doctors remove them by tying them off and using an anesthesia cream like Betacaime or XMX 5%.

How to remove skin tags is a procedure that should not be done at home. A dermatologist should perform this procedure in his office to avoid infections and serious bleeding. After the procedure they will often prescribe gels, crèmes and product to help heal and prevent scarring after skin tag surgery. 

By Joan Russell

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