Saturday, 14 January 2012

What is a Skin Tag and the Best Ways to Remove Skin Tags?

What is a Skin Tag?

Skin tags are very common and cause many people great distress because they feel that they are very unsightly. Skin tags are usually not present at birth, but over half of the population will develop a skin tag at sometime during their life. However, skin tags are totally benign and harmless, but, depending where they occur on your body, they can catch on clothing, jewelry or purse straps and become painful or even infected. Skin tags are small bits of skin that hang off your skin by a narrow, fleshy stalk. Skin tags start off by looking like a small, raised bump and they usually do not grow any bigger than a couple of millimetres in diameter, although large skin tags can be as much as 5 centimetres in diameter. Skin tags are also known as acrochorons and the parts of the body that they are most commonly found on are the neck, eyelids, underarms, in the groin area and under the breasts. Skin tags are generally the same colour as the surrounding skin, but can sometimes be darker in tone. Skin tags are not caused by disease, they just form naturally and some people are more prone to developing skin tags than others.  Heredity plays a part in whether you will develop skin tags during your lifetime, and other triggers can be putting on weight, pregnancy and getting older.

Do You Need to Have Skin Tags Removed?

Apart from their unsightly appearance and the chance that they may catch on things, there is no medical reason why you should remove a skin tag if you do develop one. Many people worry that if they start developing skin tags it is a sign of skin disease or even a precursor to skin cancer, but it must be stressed that skin tags are totally benign. Having a skin tag removed is therefore a personal decision, that you must make depending on how you think that the skin tag affects your appearance, how embarrassed you are by your skin tags or by how much pain and aggravation they are causing you when they catch or rub on something.  Another reason for deciding to have your skin tags removed is if you have quite a few that have grown on one part of your body. Another concern that some people have is that if you have a skin tag removed that it will cause the skin tags to spread and grow back.  This is a totally unfounded worry, it is just an unfortunate fact that some people are more prone to developing skin tags than others, and may have to regularly have their skin tags removed. Skin tags are also not contagious, so you do not catch them from somebody and you cannot infect others with your skin tags.

Does Your Skin Tag Need to Be Removed by a Medical Practitioner?

Once you have decided that you want to have your skin tags removed, you need to decide on whether to treat them yourself or go and have them professionally removed by your doctor. If you are suffering from a serious medical condition like diabetes, or are elderly, it may be wise to have any procedures, even one as minor as skin tag removal, carried out by your medical practitioner. Also, if you are unsure that what you have is really a skin tag and not some other more serious skin complaint, it would be a good idea to get a definitive diagnosis from your doctor or dermatologist.  If you do opt to have your skin tags removed by your doctor there are several procedures that they could use.  Your doctor could opt to laser the skin tag off, cut it off, cauterize the skin tag to remove it, or freeze it off with liquid nitrogen.  Small skin tags can be removed without any anaesthetic, but the removal of larger skin tags may require an injection of local anaesthetic. As skin tag removal is usually regarded as a cosmetic surgical procedure, you need to check whether or not it is covered by your medical insurance, and if it is not cost may be a factor in which method you choose to have your skin tags removed.

Removing Skin Tags at Home

One of the simplest ways to remove a skin tag at home it to tie a piece of cotton around the base of the stalk, so that the skin tag will die and shrivel off over the course of a few days. Once the skin tag has fallen off, keep the base of the tag clean and apply an antiseptic cream regularly until the area is completely healed. Very occasionally a skin tag will suddenly turn a purplish black colour without any intervention, which means that the blood has clotted and the skin tag will typically fall off within a few days. There are over-the-counter products that you can buy in the chemist or online to remove skin tags, but you should be careful using wart removers or any other skin medication for skin tag removal, and you should always check that they are suitable to be used for skin tag removal.  However, there are also some natural remedies that you can try at home if you do not fancy undergoing a surgical procedure or tying off your skin tag. Mix some baking soda with castor oil and apply it to your skin tags and they should fall off, apple cider vinegar applied to skin tags at regular intervals will cause skin tags to drop off as will applying aspirin dissolved in water.  If you want to be a little bit more creative, try tying a piece of potato to your skin tag; the potato should turn the flesh of the tag to go black and fall off.  Tea tree essential aromatherapy oil is also excellent for skin tag removal, just dab neat tea tree oil onto the skin tag a couple of times a day and the skin tag should be gone within a couple of weeks.

So you do have quite a few options if you choose to have your skin tags removed. If they are making you feel uncomfortable about the way you look, or causing you problems with catching and rubbing, then decide which method is the best for you.

Disclaimer:  Please be aware that any information given in this article should in no way be used to replace advice given to you by your medical practitioner.  Anybody suffering from a medical condition or is at all concerned should always consult their doctor before attempting to remove skin tags at home or applying any form of skin tag remover or essential oil.

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