You may have seen them and thought they were moles, but may not have heard the term “skin tags” before. These little protrusions are more common than people realize, but are they a cause for alarm?
Read on to find out, and also discover ways to get rid of them.
What are Skin Tags?
Skin tags are harmless, benign growths that are essentially extensions of the skin. They occur mostly in areas where there are creases in the skin (like under the armpits, surrounding the groin and neck areas). Skin tags occur commonly in African Americans and others with higher amounts of melanin in their skin. Though skin tags are rather unsightly, they aren’t a danger to your health and are fairly easy to remove. Often confused with moles, skin tags differ in the following ways:
- Skin tags are normally the same color as the skin or slightly lighter, whereas moles are darker than the skin.
- Skin tags may have an irregular shape and protrude and hang from the skin, while moles tend to be flat and round or slightly raised.
- Skin tags have a soft texture, while the texture of moles may sometimes be rough.
- Skin tags are always benign, while moles could be precancerous, especially when clusters of moles appear together throughout the body.
How to Get Rid of Skin Tags
Skin tags are usually just a cosmetic offense, but no cause for alarm. If skin tags have started popping up all over your body (or even if you see just one or two), you will be happy to know that your dermatologist can remove them in a rather short and simple outpatient procedure (maybe more than one if you have a significant amount) called cryosurgery. This procedure focuses extreme cold (usually using liquid nitrogen) on the affected areas of skin to destroy the cells there.
Eventually, the skin tag cells disintegrate and fall off on their own, with only the flat outer surface of healthy skin remaining. Alternatively, in a similar procedure, heat is used to remove skin tags. Some dermatologists may resort to anesthetizing the area locally and then simply cutting the loose skin away with scissors – though it’s not recommended that you try this yourself.
Skin tags may sometimes also be attached to nerve endings, and this could be very painful if they are severed the wrong way and without anesthesia. Unsanitary conditions could also lead to infection. It’s best to leave surgical procedures up to your doctor/dermatologist.
There are reportedly other natural skin tag remedies. Some have reportedly stopped seeing skin tag growths once they stopped using antiperspirant deodorants that contained lots of heavy metals (like copper and aluminum) – this, sometimes combined with ingesting foods that serve as metal chelators, such as cilantro (found in salsa). Since tap water is often also full of harmful metals and other contaminants, you can also do yourself some good by drinking more spring or filtered water instead.
Many have been successful at getting rid of their skin tags by cutting off the blood supply. This is done by tying string tightly around the base of the skin tag, where it is attached to the surface of your skin, being sure to keep the area clean and dried out (with alcohol or other sterile agent). As the skin tag is deprived of “life” (blood), it will usually die and fall off on its own. Though these are harmless solutions, you should discuss your options with your dermatologist to be on the safe side.