Skin tags – causes, home remedies, precautions

Skin tags are small outgrowths occurring on the surface of the skin. They can be of different sizes but are usually very small. Although skin tags are quite common, many people get bothered by them and wish to get rid of them. There are many non-invasive surgical methods which can be performed by doctors to remove skin tags. However, there are many home remedies as well which can help to break these down without the risk of getting scars or infections. 

WHAT ARE THEY?

Skin tags are mainly composed of tiny blood vessels or fat cells which are surrounded by a layer of skin. It is important to understand that these outgrowths are non-cancerous and not necessarily harmful. They may appear on various places on the body like:

  • Armpits
  • Eyelids
  • Around the neck
  • Genital area

Most of the time skin tags tend to fall off on their own. They could be of the exact same colour of your skin or could turn dark brown in colour.

CAUSES OF SKIN TAGS

There are no exact causes of skin tags. Sometimes, they may appear because the cells around the area have got trapped inside the thicker pieces of skin. Sometimes, the chances of a person developing these may slightly increase due to hereditary reasons. It has also been seen that people with higher levels of insulin in the blood tend to have more skin tags. 

These can be most commonly found in individuals who:

  • Are suffering from obesity.
  • Undergoing hormonal therapy
  • Women who are pregnant
  • Have higher cholesterol levels.

HOME REMEDIES

Baking soda

You will need:

  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 5-6 drops of olive oil

How to:

  1. Mix the baking soda with the olive oil.
  2. Apply this paste onto the skin tag.
  3. Let it stay for at least 3 hours
  4. Rinse it off using cold water.
  5. You can use this remedy 3 times a week.

How this works: baking soda is quite alkaline in nature. Its application helps to alter the skin condition which makes it harder for the skin tag to grow. Due to its drying nature, baking soda helps in desiccating the skin tag.

Garlic paste

You will need:

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • A pinch of turmeric

How to:

  1. Mash the garlic cloves until you get a paste. 
  2. Add turmeric to it and mix well.
  3. Make sure there are no hard chunks of garlic left. Apply this paste over the skin tag and allow it to work for an hour.
  4. Rinse off using a little soap and water.
  5. You can repeat this remedy every alternate day to notice results.

How this works: garlic has strong anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties. It contains sulphur which helps to inhibit the growth of skin tags and allows them to fall easily. 

Banana peel

You will need: 

  • Banana peel
  • A pinch of turmeric powder

How to:

  1. Scrape off the inner white portion of the banana peel.
  2. Add a pinch of turmeric to the scrapped off portion of the banana peel and mix well.
  3. Apply over the skin tag.
  4. Cover the area with a gauze,
  5. Remove the gauze after 8-10 hours.
  6. Wash off the paste with normal water.
  7. You can repeat this remedy every day until the skin tag is completely removed.

How this works: banana feel contains certain enzymes which are effective in removing skin tags. 

Duct tape

You will need:

  • A small piece of duct tape.

How to: 

  1. Clean the area around the skin tag. 
  2. Let it dry.
  3. Now place the duct tape over the skin tag and stick firmly.
  4. Make sure the skin tag is completely covered.
  5. Every morning, peel of the old duct tape and immediately place a fresh piece of tape onto the tag. 
  6. Do this continuously for a period of 8-10 days.
  7. The skin tag will eventually fall off.

How this works: using duct tape is a completely physical method of removing skin tags. It simply sticks on to the skin and pulls off the tag slowly over a period of time. This remedy can be used on areas which are not so visible (armpits, chest, and stomach).

Ginger paste

You will need:

  • 2-3 slices of ginger

How to:

  1. Mash the slices of ginger into a paste. 
  2. Apply the paste over the affected area and cover with a gauze.
  3. Leave the ginger slice on overnight and wash with normal water in the morning.
  4. You can even directly place a ginger slice over the skin tag and then cover with the gauze.
  5. Repeat this remedy every day until the tag is completely gone.

How this works: ginger root is very effective for removing skin tags. It does not allow any infections to occur. This remedy takes about 1-2 weeks to give results.

Tea tree oil

You will need: 

  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 3-4 drops of tea tree essential oil.

How to:

  1. Mix the tea tree oil with coconut oil. Here coconut oil will act as carrier oil.
  2. Now soak a cotton ball in this oil and place over the skin tag.
  3. Cover the skin tag with a gauze bandage to hold the cotton ball in place.
  4. Remove the bandage after 2 hours and wash the area with normal water.
  5. Repeat once, daily.

How this works: tea tree oil is very effective in dealing with skin disorders. It is anti-microbial in nature and helps to remove skin tags in a few weeks with repeated use. It is important to mix tea tree essential oil with some other carrier oil because if used directly on the skin, essential oils can lead to irritation.

Coconut oil

You will need

  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.

How to: 

  1. Take the coconut oil in a spoon.
  2. Hold the spoon over a low flame for a few seconds.
  3. Once the coconut oil is warm, apply it over the skin tag. 
  4. You need not rinse the coconut oil.
  5. Do this remedy twice daily. 

How this works: coconut oil is a rich source of lauric acid. This acid helps to dissolve stubborn cellular walls and helps in reducing the skin tags.

Aspirin

You will need:

  • 1 tablet of aspirin
  • A few drops of water

How to:

  1. Put the tablet on a spoon.
  2. Add a few drops of water on the tablet and let it dissolve. 
  3. You should get a paste. Do not add too much water or the solution will be too runny.
  4. Apply the paste over the skin tag and cover with a gauze.
  5. Let the aspirin paste stay on the skin tag for at least 2-3 hours.
  6. Wash off the paste with normal water.
  7. Repeat the remedy once every week.

How this works: aspirin helps to dry out the skin and reduces the moisture from the skin tag. This allows it to fall off easily.

Oil of oregano

You will need: 

  • A few drops of oregano oil.
  • 1 tablespoon of carrier oil (coconut oil, olive oil, Jojoba oil) 

How to: 

This remedy must be done every night before going to bed.

  1. Add 3-4 drops of oregano oil to the carrier oil and mix.
  2. Apply this mixture of oils over the skin tag and leave it to work overnight.
  3. Next morning, wash off the oil with normal water.

How this works: oregano oil is very potent and helps to dry out skin outgrowths. However, oregano oil must not be applied directly onto the skin tag as could cause a burning sensation.

Iodine

You will need:

  • 2-3 drops of iodine solution
  • A cotton Q-tip.
  • 5-6 drops of olive oil

How to:

  1. Apply the olive oil on the skin around the skin tag but not on it. This will help to avoid getting the iodine solution onto the skin around.
  2. Apply the iodine solution onto the skin outgrowth using a cotton bud.
  3. Do not apply the solution on the skin around. 
  4. Let the solution stay on the affected area for 1 hour.
  5. Rinse using normal water.
  6. Repeat this remedy once daily until the skin tag falls off.

How this works: iodine solution can be found at many pharmacy stores. Iodine helps to break down the skin cells causing then to fall off without scarring.

Pineapple juice

You will need:

  • 1-2 chunks of fresh pineapple

How to:

  1. Crush the pineapple chunks into a paste. 
  2. Apply this paste over the skin tag and cover with a wound dressing or gauze.
  3. Remove the gauze after 5-6 hours.
  4. Rinse off using normal water.
  5. Do this remedy twice daily.

How this works: pineapple juice contains several enzymes which are extremely effective in degenerating cells which are not the actual part of the skin. It helps to make the tag come off easily within 1-2 weeks.

MYTHS AND FACTS

MYTH FACT
Skin tags only happen to aged people. This condition is extremely common. Although you may find aged people with more skin tags, the fact is that they could occur at any age due to a variety of other reasons.
Skin tags are an indication of cancer. Tags are nothing but harmless skin outgrowths. These are not cancerous in nature nor do they indicate the growth of cancer within the body. It is easy to identify them because these are generally painless and do not cause any discomfort.
Removal of skin tags leads to the growth of more. This is completely false. There is no guarantee that another skin tag will grow in the place of the removed one. In fact, if this happens, it only indicates that the tag previously present didn’t get removed completely & the remaining part would have grown further in size. 
Removal of skin tags leads to permanent scarring. Skin tags can be easily removed using home remedies or even minor surgical procedures. These methods are not invasive and do not lead to scarring. However, if an infection occurs then the scaring could happen. It is important to never attempt cutting the skin tag on your own. This could lead to infections and pain.

PRECAUTIONS

  • Never try to remove the skin tag using cutting instruments as this can be very dangerous.
  • When using home remedies, be consistent with them. Skin tags can take up to weeks to fall off naturally. 
  • If you have gotten a tag removed surgically, then do not apply oils or any other substances over the area as this could lead to irritation.
  • Try to wear loose clothing. Tight clothes can lead to friction which leads to skin outgrowths.

OTC PRODUCTS

Although it is highly recommended to use natural home remedies for this purpose, there are several over-the-counter creams and solutions which can be used. If you happen to have any other skin condition, then consult your doctor before picking up any skin tag and wart removal cream.

  • Freeze away – by Dr Scholls
  • Moles formula
  • Skin tag remover
  • DermaTend

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can skin tags bleed?

Friction and unnecessary pulling or tugging may cause the skin tag to bleed. If it is present on the face or around the armpit area, then be careful while removing the hair around it using methods like shaving or waxing. These could lead to cuts and ultimately cause bleeding.

Can they be genetic?

Certainly, in older individuals, skin tags may be due to ageing. However, if they occur on children then the most probable reason could be inheritance.

Do skin tags indicate diabetes?

Skin tags could be an indication of high blood sugar or diabetes. Prominent skin tags present around the neck area indicate the development of pre-diabetes. In this condition, the body begins to develop resistance to insulin.  

Is it possible to prevent skin tags?

Skin tags can be prevented if the risk factors are considered. The most important risk factor is obesity. Therefore losing weight could reduce the chances of getting tags. Keeping your sugar intake under a check can also help.

Can skin tags turn cancerous?

No, there is no evidence to show that skin tags could turn into cancerous outgrowths. However, it is important to identify them correctly. If you notice any outgrowth which seems like a painful lump, then you must consult a doctor. Cancerous growths tend to change in colour and cause discomfort. 

Are these contagious?

Skin tags are not contagious at all and cannot spread from one person to another. 

Why do pregnant women develop skin tags?

Skin tags in pregnant women could occur due to hormonal changes. These usually go away after a certain period of time.

How do the doctors remove skin tags?

The doctor can remove the skin tag using multiple methods. Sometimes, liquid nitrogen is used to freeze off the skin tag. Other times, the doctor may remove the tag surgically using sterilized scissors.

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