Aside from looking weird – soft, small flaps of extra skin that look like tiny stalks – skin tags are relatively harmless. Unlike moles, they are rarely a sign of cancer. Depending on where they are located, they can get bothersome, irritated, and even infected. But in general, skin tags are not a serious cause for concern.
There are certain conditions, however, that increase the likelihood of developing skin tags. These conditions are usually the more serious problem; the skin tags are just a symptom or side effect. People who are overweight and/or experience diabetes symptoms, for example, usually develop these skin growths.
Science still has not determined the exact reason why skin tags form. However, the most common and well-accepted causes are genetics, aging, hormonal changes, and skin-on-skin friction.
A Cosmetic Problem
You will probably develop one or more skin tags over your lifetime. They usually form on skin folds, such as around the eyes (especially the eyelids), neck, and armpits. If you’re unlucky, your skin tags may form in a cluster and in a conspicuous location.
Needless to say, skin tags are not nice to look at. They may not be dangerous, but people who are prone to multiple skin tags often suffer from diminished self-confidence, especially when the growths are highly visible. While skin tags are usually small, they may grow over time and become even more unsightly and distinctive.
It is always best to seek the advice of a medical professional if you are unsure about what type of skin growth or dermatological problem you have. If a skin growth becomes irritated and/or infected – which often occurs when the skin tag is constantly touched, twisted, rubbed against or caught on clothing or jewelry – a visit to your doctor is also a good precautionary measure.
Should You Go to A Doctor for Skin Tag Removal?
Unfortunately, skin tag removal is not covered by health insurance because it is categorized as a cosmetic procedure. Your insurance may cover the surgery if your skin tag gets infected; however, an infection is something you’d want to avoid. You can expect to shell out between $100 and $150 per skin tag removal by a doctor. But if your skin tag is located somewhere that is highly sensitive, such as your groin area or anus, it would be best to have it removed by a medical professional. Your doctor will discuss with you different removal options, which include ligation wherein the skin tag is tied off with a string; cutting off the skin tag; and freezing.
Fortunately, there are a number of good over-the-counter skin tag removal treatment options available. There are also at-home methods that are safe and effective. If you decide to go the DIY route, whether through OTC products or home remedies, just make sure you follow the instructions to the letter.
Getting Rid of Skin Tags At Home
The type of at-home skin tag removal method you choose will depend on how big your skin tag is and its location on your body. You can actually perform the same surgical procedures mentioned above yourself.
Ligation. You will be using a TagBand to perform this procedure safely and without any risk of infection. As the product name suggests, you’ll wrap a band around your skin tag which you’ll leave in place to cut off blood circulation. After a week or so, the skin tag will turn black and fall off on its own.
Cutting. If you’re a brave sort, can tolerate the pain, and can stand the sight of blood, you can cut off your skin tag using a scalpel. You will need to thoroughly wash and sterilize both the scalpel and the skin tag, including the immediate area around it. Have aftercare supplies (betadine solution, cotton, gauze, and tape) ready. While this procedure is straightforward, it is still considered a minor surgical procedure and is best left to a doctor. Cutting a skin tag yourself brings with it a greater risk of infection, so you should consider this as a last resort.
Freezing. Doctors use liquid nitrogen to freeze off a skin tag. To serve the same purpose, you can use Compound W Freeze at home. Freezing a skin tag starves it of oxygen. It might take several applications of the product until your skin tag finally “dies” and falls off. This product is commonly used to treat warts, but is just as effective for skin tag removal.
Tea Tree Oil. You will simply have to apply tea tree oil to your skin tag/s twice a day until they become completely dry and fall off. This method is 100% natural and safe, but it might take 4 to 5 weeks of daily application to cause your skin tag/s to “die.” Make sure you only use good quality tea tree oil.
Skin tags are not a cause for concern; they pose no health risks, unless they get irritated and infected. For many people, however, skin tags are a cosmetic problem that makes them feel self-conscious and less confident. This is especially true when the skin tags are highly visible and/or grow in clumps. Of course, the abovementioned at-home methods pose a certain level of risk. So perform them with caution. We highly recommend that you have a doctor perform the surgical cutting of your skin tag, if this is the only option left. After all, you’ll end up spending more than the cost of the surgical procedure if your efforts lead to an infection and you still end up going to a doctor.