Skin tags are flesh-colored growths that form on the skin’s surface. They hang from a thin piece of tissue called a stalk.
These growths are extremely common. About 25 percent of people have at least one skin tag.
You’ll usually find skin tags in folds of skin in these areas:
- under the breasts
- around the genitals
Less often, skin tags can grow on the eyelids.
Skin tags don’t cause any health problems, but they can be uncomfortable if they rub against your clothes. And, you might not like the way they look.
Dermatologists use a few simple methods to remove skin tags.
You don’t have to remove a skin tag unless it bothers you. If you want to get rid of skin tags for cosmetic reasons, you have a few options.
Some websites recommend using home remedies like apple cider vinegar to remove skin tags. However, before you try taking off a skin tag yourself using apple cider vinegar, check with your dermatologist. You don’t want to injure your very sensitive eye area.
If your skin tag has a very thin base, you might be able to tie it off at the bottom with a piece of dental floss or cotton. This will cut off its blood supply. Eventually the skin tag will fall off.
Again, ask a doctor before trying this method. Removing a skin tag with a thick base could cause a lot of bleeding or an infection. You might also leave a scar on your eyelid.
Medical procedures and treatments
You’re safest leaving skin tag removal to a dermatologist. Here are a few techniques a doctor will use to remove the extra piece of skin from your eyelid. These treatments will cure the skin tags you have. Yet they won’t prevent new skin tags from popping up in the future.
Cryotherapy uses extreme cold to freeze off skin tags. Your doctor will apply liquid nitrogen to your skin on a cotton swab, or with a pair of tweezers. The liquid may sting or burn a bit when it goes on your skin. The frozen skin tag will fall off within 10 days.
A blister will form in the area where the liquid nitrogen was applied. The blister should scab over and fall off within two to four weeks.
Another way to remove skin tags is to cut them off. Your doctor will first numb the area, and then cut off the skin tag with a scalpel or special medical scissors.
Electrosurgery uses heat to burn off the skin tag at the base. Burning prevents excess bleeding when the tag is removed.
During a ligation procedure, a doctor ties off the bottom of the skin tag to cut off its blood flow. After a couple of weeks, the skin tag will die and fall off.
Skin tags are made from a protein called collagen and blood vessels, surrounded by a layer of skin. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes them.
Because you’ll usually find tags in skin folds like your armpits, groin, or eyelids, friction from skin rubbing against skin may be involved.
People who are overweight or obese are more likely to get skin tags because they have extra skin folds. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also increase the likelihood of skin tags forming.
People tend to get more skin tags as they age. These growths often pop up in middle age and beyond.
Skin tags may run in families. It’s possible that certain people inherit an increased likelihood of getting these skin growths.
It’s impossible to prevent every skin tag. Yet you can reduce your odds of getting them by staying at a healthy weight. Here are some prevention tips:
- Work with your doctor and a dietitian to plan meals that are low in saturated fat and calories.
- Exercise at medium or high intensity for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
- Keep all skin folds dry to prevent friction. Pat your skin completely dry after you shower. Apply baby powder to skin folds like your underarms that tend to trap moisture.
- Don’t wear clothing or jewelry that irritates your skin. Choose soft, breathable fabrics like cotton instead of nylon or spandex.
You’re more likely to get skin tags if you:
- are overweight or obese
- are pregnant
- have type 2 diabetes
- are in your 40s or older
- have other family members with skin tags
Skin tags aren’t dangerous. They won’t turn cancerous or cause any other health problems.
If their appearance bothers you, see a dermatologist. They can use techniques like freezing, burning, or surgical cutting to safely remove them.