Skin tags are extremely common small tissue growths on the skin’s surface. Up to half of all people may get one at more at some point in their lifetime. Most often, skin tags are harmless, painless, and don’t grow or change. While you can find them all over your body, skin tags often form on areas of the body subject to rubbing. You are most likely to find them on the neck, armpits, trunk and in body folds. (1)
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.”
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Skin tags, medically known as acrochordons, are soft, skin colored flaps of skin that extend out from various parts on your body. They generally do not cause pain unless rubbed frequently or twisted, and are not a medical threat. Most doctors advise to leave skin tags alone unless you are intent on removing them. If you would like to remove your skin tags, you can visit your doctor’s office to discuss your options. You can also apply natural oils or mixtures to your tag in the hopes of drying it out until it eventually falls off. If you have a growth that is too firm to wiggle, is a different color than your surrounding skin, has raw or bleeding areas, or causes you pain, consult with your doctor immediately to determine if the growth is more critical than a skin tag.
Because of this, it is vital that you mix it with a carrier oil, like coconut oil or almond oil, before applying to the skin. Mix 2 drops of a carrier oil with 4 drops of a high-quality oil of oregano and apply three times a day to skin tags. You do not need to cover it with a bandage; allow it to soak into the skin naturally. Do not apply it to broken or irritated skin.
It is important to stress that any changes in your skin, including moles and skin tags, should be looked at by your physician or dermatologist to rule out skin cancer including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Routinely check your skin for any changes, and photograph areas of concern so you can keep track of any variations easily.
Dr Yip notes that while it’s uncommon to experience an infected skin tag, it’s likely they may become red, inflamed and itchy if they're constantly rubbing against clothing and jewellery. “If there is infection, it is usually red, swollen and painful and may have pus discharge and a malodour [an unpleasant odour].” If this occurs, apply an antiseptic cream to mild irritations or see a dermatologist if the pain is more severe.
"Neurofibromas are just little skin-colored, fleshy papules. These little bumps are very common," says Geraghty. "Some people hear 'neurofibroma' and they may think of the genetic syndrome called neurofibromatosis." Neurofibromas can be seen in neurofibromatosis (a genetic condition), but most people have neurofibromas without having the genetic syndrome neurofibromatosis. "Neurofibroma lesions can happen even without that syndrome and typically that’s the case." Like skin tags, neurofibromas are benign.
A topical application of liquid iodine may help remove skin tags. It works by breaking down skin cells, so it is extremely important that you only apply to the skin tag and avoid the healthy surrounding skin. To be safe, carefully apply coconut oil to a one-half inch area around the skin tag to create a barrier. Then apply a couple of drops of iodine with a sterile cotton swab. Repeat twice each day until the skin tag falls off.
Reducing skin friction — like, not wearing necklaces that can rub on the skin — can help keep new tags from developing, says Nguyen, who adds that removed skin tags don’t typically grow back, though new ones may grow in the same general area where tags have previously popped up. A healthy diet and lifestyle can help keep blood sugar level low, which may also help prevent skin tags from forming.
There are a few ways that moles may be removed to create a more attractive appearance. When the growth is superficial and raised, we may perform a shave excision. Comfort is a priority, and we achieve this with the use of local anesthetic before mole removal procedures. The shave technique involves a transverse incision that “shaves” the growth from the skin's surface. In many cases, this results in healing into a barely perceptible scar.
While the unpredictability of skin tags might give off the impression that they’re uncontrollable, this isn’t entirely true. Laura Korb Ferris, MD, says that skin tags are more common in overweight or obese people, and are also associated with insulin resistance and diabetes. As such, maintaining a healthy weight may help reduce skin tag trouble. Basically, think of tags as a barometer of your health. If you live a poor lifestyle, eat a lot of saturated fats, consume too much sugar, and maintain an unhealthy BMI, your body could be alerting you there’s a problem.
If you want to try it I don’t think it’ll probably harm the skin tags, however. The worst that can happen is you’ll probably get a little red or itchy and inflamed there. So, while I don’t think it’s going to hurt, I don’t think it’s going to help," says Geraghty. She added that you could cause skin irritation and redness with these treatments, without getting results or getting rid of the skin tag.
Susan Besser, MD, a family medicine specialist with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, says that if skin tags “get large, change color, or become infected or ulcerated, you need to see your doctor. In those cases, it may not be a simple skin tag and further evaluation is needed.” By and large, Todd Minars, MD, of MINARS Dermatology in Hollywood, Florida, states, “Skin tags are harmless. If they do not bother you, then there is no need to treat them.”