A skin tag, formally known as fibroepithelial polyp, acrochordon, cutaneous papilloma or soft fibroma, is a common benign skin tumour. Skin tags are generally small flesh-coloured growths that hang from a narrow, fleshy stalk of skin. They generally range in size from 1mm to 1 inch and are generally smooth and slightly wrinkled in appearance. Although not harmful, skin tags, particularly those that grow on the eyelid, are often removed for cosmetic reasons.
Location and Demographics
In addition to the eyelid, skin tags generally form in places that rub against clothing, such as the neck, under the breasts, underarms and groin folds. Approximately 50 per cent of the population has skin tags. At greater risk are those who are from 40 to 60 years old, are pregnant or are obese. Skin tags often appear on persons who have other health issues such as diabetics who have insulin rejection and women who have polycystic ovary disease.
In rare cases, skin tags spontaneously dry up and fall off. Popular home remedies, such as tying a piece of thread around the stalk of the tag (therefore cutting off blood flow so that the tag falls painlessly away) works quite well for skin tags on most parts of the body. For skin tags on an eyelid, however, this can be impractical. Another remedy is to simply cut the skin tag using a pair of sterilised scissors. However, this is not recommended for eyelid tags because of the proximity of the scissor to the eye and because of the far-reaching consequences of infection, should it occur.
There are many homeopathic remedies, including the applying tea tree oil to the affected area or applying commercial homeopathic products such as Dermasil, Heal Skin Tags or Amoils. Be aware, however, that many homeopathic remedies have not been tested extensively and, as a result, might not be safe. Therefore, to safely remove a skin tag from your eyelid, it is recommended that you visit a licensed dermatologist for treatment.
Generally, there are two treatments that licensed dermatologists typically use to treat skin tags on eyelids. Cryotherapy, which is the application of liquid nitrogen or argon gas to living tissue, is one popular treatment for eyelid skin tags. Living tissue cannot survive extremely cold temperatures; applying cryotherapy to the tag stops the growth and allows the dermatologist to remove the skin tag easily. One possible side effect is temporary skin discolouration.
Another popular method, electric cauterisation, consists of the dermatologist burning away the skin tag. Although relatively painless, after treatment, stitches might be required, depending on the size of the tag. Both cryotherapy and electric cauterisation are outpatient procedures that might require a local anesthetic. A dermatologist might also prescribe an antibiotic to reduce risk of infection in extreme cases.