23rd April, 2024
Understanding skin tags: causes, removal, and prevention

Skin tags are common, benign skin growths that often appear in areas where skin rubs against skin or clothing. While they are generally harmless, many individuals seek their removal for cosmetic reasons or if the tags become irritated. This article provides insights into the causes, removal options, and preventive measures related to skin tags.

    Causes of Skin Tags:

  • Friction: Skin tags commonly develop in areas where skin experiences friction or rubbing, such as the neck, underarms, groin, and eyelids.
  • Age: The likelihood of developing skin tags tends to increase with age.
  • Genetics: There may be a genetic predisposition to developing skin tags.
  • Hormonal Changes: Pregnancy and conditions associated with hormonal changes, such as diabetes, may contribute to the development of skin tags.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for skin tag formation.
  • Removal Options:

    While skin tags are generally harmless, some individuals may choose to remove them for cosmetic reasons or if they become irritated. It's important to note that self-removal methods may carry risks of infection or scarring, and consulting with a healthcare professional is advisable. Here are common removal options:

  • Cauterization: The use of heat to burn off the skin tag. This method is typically performed by a healthcare professional.
  • Cryotherapy: Freezing the skin tag with liquid nitrogen, causing it to fall off over time.
  • Excision: Cutting off the skin tag with scissors or a scalpel. Healthcare professionals typically perform this procedure.
  • Topical Treatments: Over-the-counter creams and solutions designed to burn & dissolve the skin tag.
  • CO2 Laser Removal: Fast/efficient removal of skin tags.
  • Preventive Measures:

    While it's challenging to prevent skin tags entirely, some strategies may help reduce their occurrence:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight may reduce the risk of skin tag formation, especially in areas prone to friction.
  • Avoid Friction: Wear loose-fitting clothing in areas prone to friction, and keep skin folds dry to minimize irritation.
  • Good Hygiene Practices: Keeping the skin clean and dry may help prevent irritation and reduce the likelihood of skin tags.
  • Avoid Self-Removal: Attempting to remove skin tags at home carries the risk of infection, scarring, and other complications. It's best to seek professional guidance.
  • Regular Skin Checks: Monitor your skin for any changes or the development of new skin tags. Consult a healthcare professional if you notice any unusual growths.
  • When to Seek Medical Attention:

    While skin tags are generally harmless, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional if:

  • The skin tag is causing pain, bleeding, or irritation.
  • There is uncertainty about whether a growth is a skin tag.
  • Skin tags change in color, size, or shape.
  • There is a sudden increase in the number of skin tags.
  • In conclusion, skin tags are common and usually harmless, but removal may be considered for cosmetic reasons or if they become problematic. Professional guidance is recommended for safe and effective removal, and preventive measures can be taken to minimize the risk of skin tag formation. If in doubt or if there are concerns about a skin growth, consulting with a healthcare professional is always advisable.

    Dr. Sakshi Srivastava
    Senior Consultant
    Department of Dermatology
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