While it is true that skin tags often show up in the armpit or neck creases, the skin-on-skin friction is not what’s to blame. Rather, it’s the creases and skin folds that produce a friendly environment for a virus that may cause some skin tags. According to Ben Johnson, MD, founder of holistic beauty brand Osmosis Skincare, “Viruses are much more commonly spread through contact than people realize, but they don’t find the skin an easy place to survive. Creases improve their chances, and on rare occasions, one makes it into the follicle and infects local skin DNA to create skin tags.”
Skin tags can happen on any part of the body but are most commonly found on the neck, under arms, under the breasts and in the groin area. Why these areas? “It is thought that they are related to chronic friction, which is why they are more common in overweight or obese persons,” said Sorensen. “Higher levels of growth factors (like during pregnancy), insulin resistance (more common in people with diabetes) and possibly a genetic component also could all play a part as well.”
Although skin tags are primarily a cosmetic problem, that doesn’t mean they’re not significant enough to consult a doctor. For starters, they can still bleed when they come off, so dermatologists stress never trying to cut or pull off a skin tag on your own. One theory on skin tag removal is that tying it off with dental floss will remove it—a bad idea, according to Tanya Kormeili, MD, “This may remove the small ones, but some of the bigger ones have a larger blood supply and may become very painful as you strangulate the skin tag. They are easily removed in the office by a dermatologist.”
Cutting the skin tag off. Most doctors prefer to remove a skin tag by cutting it off quickly in office. The procedure will begin with cleaning the area with an antiseptic solution. Depending on the size and location of the skin tag, the doctor may rub a numbing solution on your skin. Then, the doctor will use a very sharp tool to simply slice the tag away. The area will be cleaned again and a bandage will be applied. You can expect to feel very little pain during the procedure. Most only feel a pinprick sensation. Occasionally. tag removal may require the doctor to stitch the resulting wound. (5)
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.
Simply soak a sterile cotton ball with apple cider vinegar and secure it in place over the skin tag with a bandage for 20 minutes. Remove and check for any irritation on the skin. If no irritation is evident, you will want to do the 20-minute treatment during the day and then before bed. Apply the soaked cotton ball and secure it, and leave it on overnight.
Skin tags themselves have a core of fibers and ducts, nerve cells, fat cells and a layer of skin surrounding it. They may have a stalk and generally look like a small piece of hanging skin. Skin tags may have a smooth surface or an irregular surface. They are often raised and either slightly brown or flesh colored. They generally start quite small and flat, like the bump on a pinhead. Sizes vary, and they can grow up to 5 cm in size. (2)
Rub on aloe vera. You can either snip off a piece of an aloe vera plant or squeeze it to get the gel or you can purchase a bottle of aloe vera gel at a store. Get a cotton swab and dip it in the gel. Wipe it on your tag as often as you like. This method relies on the natural curative properties of aloe vera and its effectiveness is hit or miss.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
I went through the stages of grief. First, I lived in denial. Then I got angry. How could this have happened to me? I tried bargaining. "I will never sleep with anyone ever again if I just wake up and these things are gone." Then I slid into depression. I actually would never sleep with anyone again because who would want to sleep with someone, I thought, who had an STD? Never mind that even chronic STDs are manageable and treatable, and shouldn’t be stigmatized. I was raised to think these things didn’t happen to nice girls.