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Skin Tags - Risk Factors, Complications, Treatment, Prevention, and Differential Diagnosis

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Skin Tags - Risk Factors, Complications, Treatment, Prevention, and Differential Diagnosis

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Skin tags are non-cancerous growth hanging off the skin caused by constant rubbing of the skin. Read the article below to know more.

Written by

Dr. Sumithra. S

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Nidhin Varghese

Published At August 5, 2022
Reviewed AtMay 31, 2024

Introduction

Skin is subjected to numerous outgrowths like freckles, keloids, moles, tags, etc. Skin tags are otherwise known as acrochordons. These are non-cancerous outgrowths hanging off the skin from a thin stalk. It is a very common outgrowth and is believed that half the population will have at least one skin tag during their lifetime. Skin tags can be found under the armpit, neck, breasts, genitals, and eyelids. The size of the tags might range from 2 mm to half an inch. Skin tags on eyelids can be seen less commonly. Usually, it will heal on its own, but in cases causing irritation and vision obstruction, tags will have to be removed with the help of a doctor.

How to Remove Skin Tags on Eyelids?

Medical treatments:

A doctor will use one of the below methods to remove the skin tags from the eyelids.

1. Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy is a very efficient method to remove skin tags. Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the skin tags. The doctor will apply the liquid nitrogen over the skin tags with a cotton swab. The liquid nitrogen application will cause a burning sensation that will settle in some time. The frozen tag will fall off in one to two weeks. A blister can occur at the site of liquid nitrogen application, and it will heal in two to three weeks. Use of creams and ointments over the blister is not advised.

2. Ligation

In case of small and narrow skin tags, the doctor would suggest ligation. First, the base of the skin tag will be tied with dental floss or cotton to cut off blood supply, and eventually, it will fall off in a week’s time.

3. Electrosurgery

Electrosurgery is done using an electric current from a particular instrument called electrocautery. It is a process of burning the skin tags. First, the skin tag will be applied with an anesthetizing topical gel, and an electric current will be applied to the base of the skin tag for the tissue to die. Once the application is over, the skin tag will fall off. This method is efficient and produces good results.

4. Surgical Excision

In case of large skin tags, surgical scissors or a scalpel will be used to cut off the tag. Then, electrocautery will be used to stop the bleeding.

Home Treatments:

There are a lot of at-home treatments suggested for skin tag removal. For example, many sources recommend using apple cider vinegar. But consulting with a specialist doctor is essential to know if it is safe to be removed that way. Few also suggest tying the base of the skin tag with a string of dental floss, sometimes hair, etc., to stop the blood supply to the tag and eventually fall off. If the base of the tag is so thick, ligation will result in profuse bleeding and infection.

Is It Safe to Use At-Home Skin Tag Removal Products?

While there are numerous over-the-counter skin tag removal products available, using at-home treatments poses certain risks. These include:

  • Scarring.

  • Infection.

  • Excessive bleeding.

  • Incomplete removal of the skin tag increases the likelihood of its recurrence.

  • Incorrect application of a tag remover on something that is not a skin tag, potentially missing skin cancer.

  • Damage to healthy skin surrounding the area.

What Are the Postoperative Side Effects?

Once a skin tag is removed,

  • The site will be painful and red. It will resolve in a week or two.
  • The site will be prone to infections after tag removal. Keeping the area clean as per the doctor’s advice will help. An eye patch or a bandage can be used to cover the site. Touching the site with bare hands should be avoided.
  • The removal procedure will result in a scar which will resolve itself in some time.

In case the patient experiences fever, extreme pain, pus discharge, and troubling vision, it is suggested to seek a doctor immediately to avoid further complications.

What Are the Risk Factors of Skin Tags on Eyelids?

The following factors are more likely to increase the risk of skin tags on eyelids.

  • Family history of skin tags.

  • Presence of medical conditions like diabetes, obesity, and Birt-hogg-Dube syndrome (a disorder of the skin and lungs causing multiple non-cancerous tumors).

  • Pregnancy can also predispose to skin tag formation.

What Are the Possible Complications of Skin Tags on Eyelids?

In most cases, skin tags will not cause many problems with vision and overall eye health. But in some instances, it might become severe and cause complications.

  • Vision will be obstructed in case the skin tags are present along the edges of the eyelid.

  • If the patient constantly scratches the tags, then pain, redness, and swelling can be noticed.

  • It tends to cause constant irritation because of the sensation of grain between the folds of the eyelids.

  • The patient will not be able to close the eyes.

How to Prevent Skin Tags from Occurring?

It is not possible to prevent skin tags from occurring. But there are a few ways to keep skin tags in check.

  • Make sure the skin folds are dry after a bath to avoid friction. Use baby powders in the areas like armpits which tend to retain moisture.

  • Maintaining a healthy weight is essential—practice weight-maintaining activities like yoga, walking, weight training, jogging, sports, etc. Avoid junk foods and eat a healthy green diet. Consulting with a nutritionist to work on a low-fat diet and calories will produce great results.

  • Wear breathable cotton fabrics and avoid wearing clothes and accessories that cause irritation. Avoid nylon fabrics.

What Are the Differential Diagnoses of Skin Tag?

Skin tags might appear similar to different conditions such as,

  • Mole - Dark brown skin growths.

  • Warts - It is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) and often presents as skin-colored bumps.

  • Seborrheic Keratosis - It is a non-cancerous skin growth and is wart-like growth. Aging and sun exposure is found to be the cause.

  • Skin cancer.

When Is It Advisable to Seek Medical Advice?

If a new spot or growth appears on the skin, a doctor should be consulted to determine its nature. It is important for the doctor to conduct a personal examination and assess for signs of skin cancer and other skin conditions.

A doctor should be visited if a skin tag is causing discomfort or if removal is desired. The doctor can provide information about available options for skin tag removal.

Conclusion

Skin tags might look scary, but in reality, it is a non-harmful growth that has to be removed when it interrupts daily activities. Therefore, seeking a doctor’s help to remove the tags is suggested rather than doing it by oneself.

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Dr. Nidhin Varghese
Dr. Nidhin Varghese

Dermatology

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skin tagacrochordon
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