Woodlands Explains: Skin Tags

What are skin tags?

Skin tags are small growths that appear on the skin. They can sometimes be mistaken for a mole or a wart, however they are usually skin coloured and hang from the skin by a small stem or base. Skin tags are made up of loose collagen fibres and blood vessels surrounded by skin.


What causes skin tags?

Skin tags are very common and affect both men and women. They can develop on anyone for no real reason, however they are more common in older people, those who suffer with type 2 diabetes or people who are obese. Pregnant women may also experience skin tags due to a change in their hormone levels. They usually appear on areas of the body where the skin is more likely to repeatedly rub together, such as the armpits, neck or groin. They can also grow on the eyelids.


Are skin tags dangerous?

Skin tags are generally considered harmless and shouldn’t cause any pain or discomfort. They can usually be left alone with no cause for concern, however, depending on where on the body they have grown, they may catch on jewellery or clothing, which can be painful and can result in bleeding. Some people may notice that their skin tags gradually get bigger, especially if they are repeatedly getting caught on things.


How can I get rid of a skin tag?

Some skin tags will eventually just fall away on their own, but if they don’t, there are a few options for removal. Unfortunately it is very unlikely that a GP will recommend skin tag removal for free on the NHS. This is due to the fact that skin tags are a very minor complaint and removal would be considered to be only for cosmetic purposes. Of course, each case is different, so it is still worth checking with your GP first, especially if you are suffering with a lot of skin tags or they are having a major impact on your self-esteem.

If a skin tag is small and narrow, and you have the all clear from your GP, it is possible to try to remove it yourself, as per the NHS guidelines, by either cutting it off with a pair of sterile scissors, or by tying some cotton around it, which cuts off the blood supply and causes it to fall off on its own.

For larger or more difficult to reach skin tags, you may wish to seek the help of a professional. At Woodlands, we are able to remove skin tags using the Plasma Pen. This a quick, straightforward treatment which uses a small, pen-like device that emits an electrical current, cutting off the blood supply to the skin tag, causing it to drop off. There will be likely be a small scab left behind, however this should heal and fall away after a couple of days. Once a skin tag is removed, it shouldn’t grow back, however, there is no way to prevent new skin tags from developing in the same area.

Please note: the safety of skin tag removal will depend on where on the body the skin tag is. A skin tag around the armpit or neck is generally fairly safe to remove, however, removing a skin tag on or near to the eyelid carries a much higher risk, due to its proximity to the eye and unfortunately, a GP or a private medical practitioner may refuse to remove one for this reason. Always seek medical advice before attempting to remove a skin tag yourself.