Skin Tag Removal – What Are Your Options?
There are several skin tag removal options available. Typically, skin tags are removed by a dermatologist or the family doctor in his or her office. But increasingly, more and more people afflicted by these generally harmless but unsightly and sometimes annoying bits of hanging skin are opting for do-it-yourself removal techniques.
In this article, we’ll address both approaches, the clinical approach, and the do-it-yourself approach. But first let’s touch on a few basics so we’re all in agreement about what a skin tag, or acrochordon, is. Simply put, it is a tiny benign growth that looks like a raised or hanging bit of extra skin (depending on your perspective).
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These little growths are actually a small composition of fibers, ducts, fat cells, and nerve cells enveloped by the skin and attached to the body by a thin stalk. They come in different shapes and can be darker or lighter flesh colors. They can be minuscule or as large as grapes.
Babies are born free of these growths, but over time about half the people you encounter day in and day out will have developed skin tags at one time or another. They tend to be more prevalent in middle age, but can also be found in children, heavy young adults, and pregnant women (possibly because of elevated hormone levels during pregnancy).
It is important to remember that these growths are not symptomatic of any illness or disease. However, because they tend to be rather ugly, and can create discomfort or pain, you might want to consider removing them. Though harmless, the fact they can appear anywhere on the body gives them the potential to mar your appearance or create great discomfort.
These tiny tags tend to appear most often in skin creases. The eyelids, neck, armpits, under the breasts, and the groin area are especially susceptible. Friction caused by clothing, underwear, and jewelry can irritate the area and cause redness and pain. Careless shaving or excessive friction can cause tearing and bleeding,
If you are removing one that is on your eyelid or near your eye, you may want to consider seeing an ophthalmologist, who could perform the procedure and ensure no harm is done to your eye.
Typically, dermatologists and family doctors can perform the following procedures in their offices:
- Cryotherapy involves freezing the growth with liquid nitrogen. This method can also be used in the removal of moles and warts. There may be some temporary skin discoloration. Also, the treatment may have to be repeated until the tag falls off.
- Cauterization involves using electric currents to burn off the skin tag. This method can be tricky as surrounding skin tissue may inadvertently be burned.
- Excision is a clinical method that involves using a scissors or scalpel to cut off the growth. Local anesthesia (lidocaine) may be used to numb the affected area. A topical numbing cream may be used for areas containing many. Excision may lead to some pain and bleeding, nonetheless, especially when removing multiple growths.
Removal will not lead to the growth of more skin tags that the person would not develop anyway. Some people are simply more prone to them than others. Atypically shaped or larger growths should be examined under a microscope by a pathologist to rule out cancer, which is extremely rare cases has been found in abnormal skin tags.
Your average common skin tag can be removed by a doctor. However, in the vast majority of instances, removal is not covered by medical insurance plans as it is considered a cosmetic procedure. The cost, the inconvenience of going to the doctor’s office, and the increased availability of safe, easy, and natural home remedies are all factors that have led to increasing numbers of people going the self-treatment route.