What are Skin Tags?

A skin tag.
Liquid nitrogen can be used to freeze off skin tags.
A skin tag may be removed using a scalpel.
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  • Written By: J.Gunsch
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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Skin tags are fairly small flaps of skin that protrude from the surrounding skin on the body. They vary widely in their color and shape — some are smooth, while others are irregular and bumpy. Some are flesh colored, while others contain pigment that differs from that of the rest of the skin.

A skin tag can grow anywhere on the body, although they are quite common on the eyelids, in the crook of the elbow, in the armpits, and on the neck. Skin tags can appear either as a flap attached to the skin or on a stalk-like structure of skin called a peduncle. When attached to the skin by peduncle, they look like little mushrooms with a firm stalk and a bulbous tip.

These flaps of skin are considered by dermatologists to be small tumors, but they are benign, or harmless. Normally, skin tags grow very slowly to a specific size, up to 0.5 inch long (1.27 cm), and then cease growing. A tumor that appears to be a skin tag, but grows rapidly and consistently, may be another kind of tumor that is malignant and possibly cancerous.

Although unattractive, skin tags are harmless growths that appear mostly on adults beginning in middle age. They are formed when an area of the outer layer of skin begins to overgrow and envelops collagen fibers, a type of skin cell that is firm and lacks elasticity. Women get skin tags more often than men.

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Skin tags are not a source of medical problems for most people, and they are most often painless. In some instances, however, they grow on areas of the body where they may become irritated through friction with clothing, jewelry, and other materials, causing scrapes and infections. Some are located in areas that are bothersome, such as when they are attached to an eyelid, or are simply unwanted for cosmetic reasons.

A medical professional can remove a skin tag safely and painlessly. Some methods of removal include freezing it off with liquid nitrogen or removing it with a scalpel or surgical scissors. Cauterizing or burning skin tags off is also effective. Once removed, they do not grow back, although they may continue to appear on other parts of the body.

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Discuss this Article

anon345316
Post 32

I am a 19 year old male and I have these things all over my neck and one under my arm. You said they occur most often in women and people who are middle aged. Should I be worried?

anon286687
Post 31

Just grab hold of it with your fingernails, pinch hard and yank! Do it quick, and it's painless. Then have a dressing to press on it, and hold pressure on it for 10 minutes and all is good. The key to stopping any bleeding is to maintain pressure. Don't keep taking the dressing off to see if it has stopped bleeding. Keep the dressing and pressure on for 10 solid minutes and it will be fine. That's how I deal with mine. Good luck to all!

anon283624
Post 30

I had some and tied them off with dental floss. I just tied a tight knot at the base, and left it. Within a few days, they "dried up" and fell off. The floss cuts off their blood supply so they die on their own, and it was completely painless and zero blood.

anon167126
Post 28

I have a skin tag on my peri-anal area. I had shown this to my doctor and does not advise surgery at all. Said it will stop growing eventually. How large is large? I feel it every time i take a shower just so to make sure it does not grow bigger. I need more professional advice. Thank you!

anon135876
Post 26

I just removed three that i've had since i can remember, all around my neck. So here's what i did: I tied a cotton thread around them, as tight as i could. then i took an ice cube and froze the area.

after the area was numb, i used peroxide to sterilize the area. then i pulled them and snipped the skin tag. Snip it as fast as you can, because it will hurt if you take your time.

Remember to clean all your tools very well; you don't want an infection. the reason i tied the thread before was to cut off the blood supply. That way it won't bleed as much.

anon122579
Post 25

Don't know why there are so many people trying to remove skin tags at home, Especially on their eyelids! My doctor gave me the option of having it removed in his office - with a scalpel or to see a plastic surgeon/eyelid specialist (which I preferred) to remove my upper eyelid skin tag. I didn't want to chance having a scar on my face! Maybe snip those skin tags at home that are not visible but on your face - see a doctor!

anon111480
Post 24

I noticed what looked like a skin tag on my eyelid a few weeks ago, and it's been getting bigger. It's about 2 centimeters. I started probing it with the hopes of being able to cut it off without messing with my eyelashes or their follicles, and when I stabbed it white puss oozed out! It totally deflated. No snipping necessary! I hope this was the end of it.

anon110445
Post 23

Ok I'm back. I did it. I had a small one which was on by a thread which I just cut off in the bathroom with scissors as is and put a plaster on it. No probes. Hurt a bit so be quick. It was like a paper cut. Not much pain or blood.

The big one I also had on my neck was about the size of a pea and was well attached. I remembered I had some acti ice wart freeze spray. So I used it and left it over night. In the morning it was weepy and swollen and sore. So I froze it again and cut it off. No pain. Bit of blood. Plaster on it now and all good.

Freeze it with a wart freezer or ice cube and cut the sucker free. Stu.

anon104673
Post 22

The reason the skin tags bleed so much is because the skin will literally reroute small capillaries and arterioles to them to feed them. Therefore, they've got a "mainline" of blood going through the stalk, so don't be surprised when they bleed a lot when you snip them.

Also, always remember that aseptic technique is vitally important. Aseptic means literally "without sepsis", which means no bacteria, viruses, microbes, nothing. It doesn't mean "clean enough" it means "clean".

Sterilize the stuff you're using, use sterile gauze, wash your hands in antibacterial soap for at least twenty seconds before hand and use gloves if you need to. Infection is nothing to play around with. --Donald

anon101972
Post 21

I clipped my skin tag today. I used to go to the doc to get them removed, but I had only 1 this time.

When the doc does it, she uses some kind of liquid nitrogen or something to stop the bleeding. Putting this on hurts way more than the actual snip.

Mine was somewhat large, and in the panty-line. It did not hurt, and I didn't even tear up, but did bleed pretty good for about two hours. Had to change the gauze four times but it has been 12 hours and all is fine.

I will continue to put antibiotic ointment on it for a few days. Did the same to a small one on my neck months ago and it has not come back!

anon96806
Post 20

I got one on the very edge of my eyelid. I'm scared to do it, but I'm going to take out the old nail clippers, dip 'em in boiling water and give it my all. I just hope i get it all off, and that the blood doesn't blind me for too long -- or the pain.

anon93023
Post 19

After reading these comments, I was eager to attempt to "snip" my skin tag off. I'd already begun the process of tying it with dental floss and it began to swell and look puffy. With my newfound courage I sterilized two nail clippers and had witch hazel ready to clean the wound. It took forever! There was no snip, snip for me. The darn thing would not come off.

Perhaps it was because one pair of clippers was rather dull and the other was encased in fancy plastic, who knows?

My experience was awful, but the tag is gone. I just envisioned myself bleeding to death- there was so much blood. Now I have an open wound to care for and all in all, I'm glad I did it. I don't wish my experience on anyone. Happy clipping!

anon91263
Post 18

Half an hour after reading this posts, the skin tag that appeared on my edge of my eyelid is removed, though the bleeding hasn't yet completely. Nice! Did it by boiling water, dipping the nail clippers into it, then into a bowl of alcohol, dabbed the tag, and easy peasy, bob's your uncle!

anon81481
Post 17

I Just got some none flavored floss and tied it off for a few days cut the circulation off and it fell off, and it has been gone ever since and I am so happy!

anon70237
Post 16

I did three ways to take these nasty things off. first of all the old japanese way mom taught me. get two people to help get thread ready, sterilize a tweezer, pull skin tag, loop thread, pull both ends till it's tight enough to be squeezed off! the other, snip with scissors or fingernail cutter, the other is wart removers will freeze them right off! Hawaiian Wahine 808

anon58352
Post 15

I'm in my 20s and have had a skin tag "down below" for a few years now, I think it developed during/after my pregnancy with my first child. I hated it and used to worry about it, but was too embarrassed to go to a doctor to have it removed. Researching around tonight I found that many people have removed them themselves, so I decided to give it a try.

I sterilized a pair of new, sharp nail clippers, and cut that nasty thing right off! Took me a couple of goes to muster up the courage- One, two, three-- ahhh dammit, chicken.. One, two, three -- snip! all gone, it didn't hurt much at all. =)

It bled a little bit, cleaned it with peroxide. Woohoo, so glad it's gone. Hopefully it doesn't grow back. =)

anon58234
Post 14

Ok so I've been putting up with this things for over eight years. I know, wow! Well i was reading the comments got up and said I'm doing this i had five all in one spot between my breasts and one in my neck. all gone. thanks guys!

anon42651
Post 12

I had a skin tag on my neck since last September. I contemplated removal and played with it on a daily basis. This skin tag started to bother me and it was black on my pecan tan skin. Tonight upon reading this article, I got up and went to the mirror and sterilized my hair scissors and snipped it. I had played with it so much, it was hard on the tip. I had had enough! Cleaned the area with peroxide and now I am moving on. Thank you.

anon37779
Post 11

Some years ago, my doc suggested tying off the tag, but I got no answer when I asked him if he'd suggest this to his family. After enduring painful tags (amazing: so small - so painful!), I did it myself: after sterilizing nail clippers, I cut the tag. It stung for a bit, bled longer, but soon was painless. I applied anti-band (antibiotic/ bandage). But how do I (alone) treat those I cannot reach? I know tags are caused by friction, and some are unavoidable (panty/braband/waistline). And what to do when you are allergic to latex? I can't use (even sensitive) bandages for more than two days w/out irritation.

Hopefully, insurance permitting (it considers such treatment as cosmetic [who will see/care about tags at my bra-line?]), my doc will soon remove said tags. For something so small, it sure hurts at times! Suggestions????

anon35827
Post 10

Has anyone ever gotten them on their upper thighs near the vagina lips? Not on the lips,actually on the leg. I thought they were scars from shaving my pubic hair,cause I have cut myself and have 1 scar and the possible skin tags look a lot like the shaving scar!!! Any one have any advice for me?!?! Oh yeah and I know its not herpes cause I get tested every year,never had an STD before,and these are something fairly new!!

6pack
Post 9

So then the difference between a mole and a skin tag seems to be the degree to which they stick out, or hang, from the body.

anon34641
Post 8

While removing skin tags yourself might be completely feasible and harmless, I'd prefer to get a doctor or nurse to do it. For me, it's less of a stress that way.

anon34640
Post 7

I go to the doctor once a year to check my moles and get any cumbersome skin tags removed.

anon32758
Post 6

Skin Tag DX worked in getting rid of my tags.

anon9150
Post 2

can you remove skin tags at home by yourself? it's kind of scary, but they seem to just hang there, barely attached to anything! i'd hate to pay a dermatologist an arm and a leg for a quick snip, snip!

Moderator's reply: Check out our article, Can I Remove Skin Tags at Home? . There you'll find lots of good advice and success stories on removing those pesky little skin tags!

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