Skin tags are benign, but often unsightly, growths of skin that are common on the neck, armpit, groin, underneath the breast and around the eyes. Because they are not cancerous or a sign of disease, there is no medical reason to remove them, and most health-insurance plans don't cover the procedure. Fortunately, there are several simple, safe remedies you can use at home.
Skin tags---medically known as acrochordon---are soft, movable, flesh- or slightly darker-coloured lesions that are attached to the body by a slim "stalk." Doctors don't understand entirely what causes these lesions, but possible reasons include insulin resistance, pregnancy, weight gain, heredity, the human papilloma virus (which causes warts), or simply chaffing, as most tags occur in wrinkled areas or the folds of skin.
Skin tags are usually benign, but if they are painful, infected, immovable or if you have any other doubts, have your dermatologist or general physician check them out.
Cutting off a skin tag is one of the most common methods of removal. Contrary to popular belief, it is rarely a painful or unsafe procedure, provided you are careful. Sterilise nail scissors or clippers by boiling the implement in water, letting it cool and then wiping the instrument with rubbing alcohol. Snip the skin tag off at the base and then cleanse it and apply a Band-Aid to ensure against infection. If the area bleeds, wipe it with hydrogen peroxide and then apply a Band-Aid.
Another simple remedy involves tying a thread tightly around the base of the skin tag to cut off the blood supply. Within two or three days it will turn black and fall off. Depending on the location of the tag---around the eyes, for example---this may not be a convenient method.
Freezing, known medically as cryptotherapy (cold therapy), is a common method used in the doctor's office that can be done at home with care. Dip a Q-tip in a freezing solution such as Dr. Scholl's Freeze Away and apply it to the skin tag, which kills the cells immediately. This same method can be used to treat warts.
Anti-viral essential oils can also be used topically to remove skin tags. These oils penetrate cell membranes quickly and kill the tag at its roots, ensuring that it won't grow back. Apply the oil three times a day until the tag disappears, usually within two to six weeks.
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