You might belong to the 50%-60% of people who develop at least one skin tag in their mid- to late adulthood. Depending on where a skin tag is located, it can get irritated and painful (and even infected) or affect one’s appearance and self-confidence.
Although skin tags are mostly harmless and pose no health risk, a lot of individuals still seek ways to remove them. Going to a dermatologist is one option. Going the DIY route with over-the-counter skin tag removal products is another. In both cases, aftercare during the healing period is important to prevent infection and scarring.
Of course, before you attempt to remove a skin tag yourself, make sure that it is, indeed, what you have. Warts and raised moles can be easily confused for skin tags. The type of removal option that is most appropriate for your skin tag will depend on its size and location. Choosing the right kind of method is also key to minimize the risk of infection and scarring. And remember that the bigger the skin tag, the bigger the likelihood that it will leave behind a scar if removed.
The treatment period also varies. Some methods, such as laser removal, is a quick and one-time thing; others, such as using tea tree oil or skin tag cream, requires weeks or even months of regular application before the skin tag falls off. Most at-home solutions take a lot longer than procedures performed by a doctor.
Proper aftercare is, of course, up to you. Follow-up check-ups with your doctor might be required to closely monitor how well your skin is healing or if you show signs of infection. But if you follow the simple steps listed below, your skin will fully recover with no sign whatsoever that you had a skin tag removed.
How long does it take to heal?
The skin’s rate of recovery varies from person to person. The size of the skin tag; the number of skin tags removed (skin tags sometimes grow in clusters); and the type of removal method also determine how fast you will heal. Your overall health is another factor. People with diabetes, for example, are slow to heal from wounds.
But on average, the wound left by skin tag removal takes between 2 and 3 weeks to heal. The formation of a scab or some mark or pigmentation is normal after skin tag removal. Avoid picking at the scab so as not to hinder the healing process.
Should you worry about an infection?
An infection can become a possibility if you did not follow proper treatment procedure and aftercare. But because skin tag removal usually only leaves behind a small, superficial wound, infection is not a cause for worry.
You should still keep a close eye on the area for the first 24 hours after skin tag removal. Some redness and soreness are normal for a few hours post-removal, but these should subside after 24 hours.
If the redness persists for more than a day; if there is swelling and pain; if the area is warm to the touch; and/or if there is pus, these are signs that the wound might be infected and you should visit a doctor right away.
Aftercare Basics for Skin Tag Removal
Below are aftercare basics you should follow to help your skin recover fully and more quickly:
- If there is bleeding after your skin tag falls off, and especially if you removed it by cutting, clean the wound with warm water and soap and pat dry. Apply antibiotic ointment on the wound, two to three times a day, and cover it with gauze or band-aid. You can also apply tea tree oil to hasten recovery and benefit from the oil’s antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- If you used a skin tag removal kit, make sure to use the aftercare cream included in the kit as instructed. Finish the recommended treatment period even if the wound looks like it has already healed.
- If you used essential oils such as tea tree oil to remove a skin tag, there is zero chance that you will develop an infection or scar. Just keep applying the oil to the area every day for about two weeks after skin tag removal.
- If you opted for ligation, you can apply aloe vera to the area for faster healing and restoration of healthy skin.
- If a scab develops over the area, do not pick it off. Wait for the scab to go away on its own. If necessary, cover the scab so it does not get disturbed and rubbed off accidentally.
- Monitor the area closely for a few days after skin tag removal. Watch out for signs of infection. You can apply vaseline to the area to keep it moisturized, especially if it is prone to dryness and cracking. Avoid using perfumed creams or lotions on the area while it is healing.
Skin tags are harmless growths, but you may still want to have them removed especially if they become irritating and if they affect how you look. Choose the most suitable skin tag removal method based on the size and location of your skin tag, and remember to perform proper aftercare to prevent infection and scarring and to aid the healing process.