As mentioned above, skin tags have their own blood supply, and you should not attempt to cut, burn, tie, or freeze skin tags at home. And, please, do not apply duct tape to your skin. The risk of infection and scarring with these types of removal tactics is high. Take the time to learn how to remove skin tags safely with the natural treatments suggested below.
Don’t impulsively deem any protruding bump as a skin tag; after all, there is an overwhelming number of things it could be—moles and seborrheic keratoses can closely resemble skin tags. Even worse, it could be something that requires medical treatment such as genital warts (possible indication of a sexually transmitted disease). Some growths could also be an extension of glands on the skin, and they can get infected if you’re poking at them at home. As a rule of thumb, if the tag is pigmented, see a dermatologist to get it evaluated. And here are 11 other skin mysteries you should know about.
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The vast majority of moles are not dangerous. Moles that are more likely to be cancer are those that look different than other existing moles or those that first appear after age 25. If you notice changes in a mole's color, height, size, or shape, you should have a dermatologist (skin doctor) evaluate it. You also should have moles checked if they bleed, ooze, itch, or become tender or painful.
There is no evidence that removing a skin tag will cause more tags to grow. There is no expectation of causing skin tags to "seed" or spread by removing them. In reality, some people are simply more prone to developing skin tags and may have new growths periodically. Some individuals request periodic removal of tags at annual or even quarterly intervals.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Don't ignore a mole that's changing. If you don't like the prospect of having surgery, you might be tempted to let your mole be and forget about it. That's usually fine, unless you notice that the mole has changed over time. A changing mole can be a sign of the presence of cancer cells, so you should have any mole checked out by your doctor. Use the ABCDE guide to examine your mole. If you notice the following, be sure to make an appointment with a doctor:
If patients have a large number of skin tags or if the lesions are bothersome, then GP treatments include cryotherapy (with liquid nitrogen), surgical excision or burning off the skin tag with a Hyfrecator (an electrosurgical device). Both surgical excision and hyfrecation give instant results. With cryotherapy patients will often need a few treatments before the lesions completely clear.
Castor oil has been a medicine cabinet staple for generations, much like baking soda. Together, they may help to safely get rid of a bothersome skin tag. Mix two parts castor oil with one part baking soda and rub it gently over the skin tag. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, or banana or papaya peel, and secure with a bandage. Leave on overnight and rinse off in the morning. Repeat nightly until the skin tag falls off.
While they can turn up anywhere, skin tags tend to appear where there is frequent friction, such as the neck, breasts, groin, and underarms. Ultimately, there is no evidence that skin tags will lead to any serious skin condition: They’re mostly an aesthetic annoyance. Regardless, most dermatologists encourage you to have them checked out—and removed, if you want. The only link to danger is from one study from the Indian Journal of Dermatology, which suggested that skin tags may be a sign of underlying heart issues. You could get your heart checked out, but the one research connection shouldn’t concern anyone too much.
The implications of this differentiation help someone understand whether mole removal is covered by health insurance. So, cosmetic removal or removal of a mole because it is unsighly is not medically necessary and insurance will not cover this whereas insurance will cover the suspicious appearing mole. Regardless, the cost of mole removal will vary anywhere from $100 to $500 based upon size, location and shape.
Thankfully, this is far from true. While a lot of people worry that removing one will lead to more down the road, take comfort in knowing this is bogus info. Any additional breakout is because they were meant to spawn there. “One skin tag has nothing to do with another. Though removing one does not mean that you will never get another—as a doctor cannot prevent them from coming—it also does not equate to causing more to grow,” informs Dr. Shah.
Your mole removal treatment will depend on the technique used for removal. However, it may take a few weeks to notice the full results from treatment. If your mole is being removed by excision, we will use a topical anesthetic to minimize discomfort during your treatment. You may also have some discomfort, swelling, and scarring following your treatment.
The cost to remove a mole is variable depending on the body location and nature of the mole. Some moles are best treated by excision with stitching. Flat moles that are not raised off the skin surface are a good example of this since trying to shave the mole could involve getting too deep into the skin and leave a "divot" or ice-pick type scar without suturing the area closed. Moles that are more raised off the skin can usually be shaved off but may also benefit from suturing to refine the scar/blemish that forms especially if on the face or other highly exposed areas. The cost will range from $200 - $350 depending on the technique used. One thing to always keep in mind is that a genuine mole should never be simply ablated, such as with laser, liquid nitrogen or radio-frequency without a biopsy being done first to ensure the mole is safe. Otherwise, an ablation type treatment may simply mask the remnants of the mole that is destined to form a melanoma.
One final cost is pathology to determine if the mole is cancerous or precancerous. This isn't usually necessary if the mole has been there a very long time. If the mole is new, has changed recently, or has other suspicious features like bleeding, your health insurance should cover the cost of removal and pathology. If you don't have insurance or if you prefer to have a mole sent even when it's being removed for purely cosmetic reasons, then pathology will cost an additional $125-200.
You shouldn’t experience any severe pain as the area heals, but you might deal with soreness or itching, Dr. Conrad says. Regardless of the type of mole removal you had, your doctor should instruct you on how to keep the area as clean and soothed as possible. For patients without stitches, Dr. Goldenberg recommends running a mixture of water and gentle soap over the wound at least once a day, gently patting it dry, then applying a thick ointment like petroleum jelly or an anti-bacterial cream before putting on a fresh adhesive bandage.
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Have a surgical excision if necessary. If the mole is cancerous, or if it's large and covers a big surface area, it will probably need to be removed using surgical excision. After administering local anesthesia, the dermatologist will make a deeper cut to remove the mole and surrounding tissues, preventing it from growing back. The wound is then closed using sutures designed to leave minimal scarring.
Soft, fleshy growths that hang from the skin are commonly referred to as skin tags. Acrochordons — as they are referred to within the medical community — are not cancerous. They are generally considered a cosmetic concern, not a medical issue. They rarely cause pain or discomfort. But many people find them unsightly and want to know how to remove skin tags. (1)
Aside from genetic predisposition, UV exposure causes most moles to develop. This provides you with the opportunity to minimize your risk of new moles by practicing healthy sun habits. Moles result from all UV exposure, not just from a sunburn or excessive time in the sun. To minimize the chance that sun damage will cause new moles – or skin cancer – to develop on your body use broad-spectrum sunscreen on a daily basis, and avoid indoor tanning.
Essential oils contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that may help remove skin tags naturally. One solution that's becoming popular is the use of tea tree oil, which is a potent product derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree from Australia.19 This plant has been studied extensively, with research pointing out that it can help fight bacteria,20 fungi21 and viruses.22 Furthermore, other experts note that tea tree oil contains anti-inflammatory properties.23,24,25
Dysplastic nevi are moles that are generally larger than average (larger than a pencil eraser) and irregular in shape. They tend to have uneven color with dark brown centers and lighter, uneven edges. These nevi are somewhat more likely to become melanoma. In fact, people who have 10 or more dysplastic nevi have a 12 times higher chance of developing melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer. Any changes in a mole should be checked by a dermatologist to evaluate for skin cancer.
But skin tags are generally benign, so I’ll probably just live with it. The same way I live with the ones on my genitals — a story I can now look back on and laugh at. Skin tags. I thought I’d contracted some disease as yet unknown to science, but really, I had skin tags. No wonder that poor ob-gyn almost laughed me out of the stirrups. Because if there’s one things that’s true, it’s that about half of us have skin tags — whether you can see them or not.