Skin tags, medically known as acrochordons, are small, harmless growths that commonly appear on the neck, chest, underarms, or groin.
They’re painless and don’t cause health problems, but many people choose to remove them for cosmetic reasons.
Preventing Skin Tags
No one knows exactly what causes skin tags, so it’s difficult for doctors and researchers to advise on how to prevent them.
They can appear on anyone at nearly any age, though they become more common between 40-70.
Skin tags are also more common in people living with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome, suggesting that taking steps to maintain good health and avoid these conditions may help reduce your risk of developing skin tags.
Removing Skin Tags
Don’t try this at home.
You’ll need the help of a doctor, dermatologist, or another medical professional to safely and effectively remove your skin tags.
You may have heard the at-home trick of using dental floss or thread to tie off the base of the skin tag until it cuts off the blood flow and falls off. This might be effective in some cases, but it is not safe. There’s a good chance you will experience excess bleeding, scarring, or infection.
What Your Doctor Will Do
The most common method for removing skin tags is called excision. This involves numbing the area with a local anesthetic and cutting out the skin tag with a sterilized scalpel or scissors.
Other methods include electrocauterization, which uses heated electrical currents to destroy the skin tag, and cryotherapy, which uses extremely cold temperatures to freeze off the skin tag.
However, severe heat and cold methods are generally avoided, as they may cause scarring and pigmentation issues.
In delicate areas around the eyelids, extra care is taken to avoid damage to the surrounding tissues.
Sometimes the procedure will be done with an anesthetic, but it isn’t always needed. Epinephrine may be used in some cases to minimize bleeding.
After removing the skin tag, the area will be covered with a sterile dressing or bandage. You can expect some swelling, redness, and soreness for a few days after the procedure. These side effects should go away on their own.
If you have a skin tag that you want to get rid of, talk to your primary care physician or dermatologist about having it removed. They can ensure it is a harmless skin tag and not a similar-looking and more dangerous growth (another important reason why you should not try to remove skin tags yourself).
Then, they can get you the help you need to safely and effectively get rid of your skin tag.