Skin tags are small, soft pieces of skin that appear on the surface of your skin, and that look rather like small partly deflated balloons. They can be skin colored or slightly darker, and are known medically as acrochordons. They are benign and quite harmless, although when they appear, many people want to get rid of them for purely cosmetic reasons.
Who gets skin tags, and why?
Skin tags occur in both men and women, and tend to appear later in life, typically from around 50 years of age onwards, although they sometimes occur earlier. Small babies are known to develop them; and young children too. Although uncertain, it is thought that the main cause of skin tags developing is when skin rubs against skin, and this is why many people link the appearance of them with obesity. In some instances they manifest themselves for no apparent reason, but some suspect that it could be something to do with clothes rubbing against the skin.
Some people theorize their appearance may also be due to an imbalance in hormone levels, which could explain why pregnant women seem to be more susceptible to developing skin tags.
For whatever reason; approximately 46% of the US population has them. So I’m afraid that even if you do already follow a holistic health lifestyle, you could still end up contributing to this statistic.
Where do skin tags usually appear?
Whilst skin tags can appear anywhere on the body, they more usually manifest themselves at the bottom of the neck, in the underarms, on the eyelids, under the breasts and in the folds of the skin in the buttocks. When small babies develop them, it is usually in the folds of their skin, (which goes along with the obesity theory), and when young children develop them, more often than not they appear on their eyelids, possibly as a result of frequently rubbing their eyes.
When they first appear they can be likened to a small, flat pinhead, and whilst they usually remain quite small, (somewhere between 2mm and 5mm in diameter), they can grow to as large as 5 cm diameter.
Exploding the myth
Generally speaking, the larger they are, the more they bleed if they are accidentally pulled off, when dressing or undressing, or if accidently cut off when shaving. Some people think that when they are removed, they will re-grow, but this is a myth.
The different ways of removing skin tags
Skin tags can be removed by applying over the counter preparations that can be found in most drug stores. It is however a slow process, and you should also bear in mind the fact that at this point in time, there are no officially approved creams for skin tag removal; so you do run the risk of incurring skin inflammation, or irritation if you do tread this road.
Sometimes, if they become twisted, skin tags get starved of blood and fall off, which leads us nicely into the subject of physical removal.
Let’s now take a look at physical remove.
There are basically 5 options in total when it comes to physical removal. If you decide to go and see your doctor, or a dermatologist, they will offer you 4 different options:
- Cauterization: Where the skin tag is in effect burned off under a local anesthetic by either electro-cauterization, or chemical cauterization
- Cryosurgery: Freezing the skin tag off under local anesthetic
- Excision: Surgical removal by cutting
- Surgical litigation: Tying the skin tag off with a medical suture.
This last option above is also something that you can do at home.
- DIY physical removal. In the same way that a doctor or dermatologist can carry out a surgical litigation procedure, you can do this at home yourself by tying the skin tag off with dental floss. You must knot the floss in place yourself to cut off the blood supply. After a few days, the tag will wither and fall off.
I wouldn’t recommend the DIY physical removal option, only because you might not tie the floss in the right position, and if you don’t, you may not achieve complete removal, leaving behind a stub which might then be more fiddly to remove.
Dealing with skin tags in a natural way
For those of us who follow a holistic health lifestyle, (and even for those who do not), we suggest the natural removal route has got to be the preferred one to take; so let’s take a look at what options are open to us. The only word of caution is that all of these natural removal treatments are only supported by apocryphal evidence. That doesn’t means to say that they don’t work; only that there is not scientific research to say otherwise; but as we all know, science sometimes takes a long time to catch up with Mother Nature.
Natural skin tag removal treatment # 1 – Tea tree oil
Unsurprisingly, tea tree oil comes from the leaves of the tea tree, so named by sailors in the 18th-century who used it to make a tea using the leaves that grew on trees along the south-east Australian coast.
Today, tea oil is a topically applied treatment for many skin complaints including acne, athlete’s foot, and scabies, as well as being used to ward off lice, and to cure fungal nail infections.
To use tea tree oil to remove skin tags, simply take a ball of cotton wool, soak it in the oil and apply straight onto the affected area. Repeat the process twice per day, and within four weeks, the skin tags will reportedly disappear.
Natural skin tag removal treatment # 2 – Castor oil
The second of our apocryphal skin tag removal treatments is to use castor oil, the name of which sparks fear into the minds of children of yesteryear, whose mothers used to force them to drink a teaspoon per day. Taken orally, it is absolutely revolting, which is why today, with the modern technology available to us, it is dispensed in capsules that can be swallowed whole, thank goodness.
As one of the apocryphal skin tag removal treatments, Castor oil should be mixed with baking soda in a proportion of 2 to 1. Repeated daily, skin tags should fall off somewhere within 2 to 4 weeks. As the aroma is not particularly pleasant, some people add a little citrus oil into the mix.
Natural skin tag removal treatment # 3 – Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be applied in the same way as tea tree. Just daub it lightly onto the skin tag using a cotton wool ball, (again, twice per day if possible), and the skin tag should drop off within the same timescale, i.e. 2 to 4 weeks. You may experience a slight stinging sensation.
Natural skin tag removal treatment # 4 – Banana peel
Banana peel: Cut into small segments place over the tag and hold in place with a plaster. Change daily and repeat until the tag drops off.
Natural skin tag removal treatment # 5 – Garlic
Press a clove of garlic into a paste, apply onto the back of a sticking plaster and cover the skin tag. Do this last thing at night, before retiring to bed; and in the morning, when you get up, remove the dressing, and wash the area clean with warm water. Repeat for 3 consecutive nights after which the tag should drop off. It’s not recommended to continue this treatment for more than 3 nights as it’s possible that the repeated use of garlic could burn your skin.
Natural skin tag removal treatment # 6 – Ginger
Remove the peel from a small nugget of ginger and rub onto the affected area of skin. Repeat daily for 2 weeks, by which time, the tag should fall off.
Natural skin tag removal treatment # 7 – Pineapple juice
Apply pineapple juice to the tag twice per day. Do not clean off, but let it dry in situ. Continue the treatment for 1 week, during which time the tag should disappear.
The one sure fire way to remove skin tags is by litigation (as discussed earlier), or by cutting with a sharp pair of scissors. Be sure to sterilize the scissors before you use them. Just be a little careful if you use this method as the small wound may bleed. If it does apply pressure using a soft cloth for 10 minutes or so and the bleeding should stop.