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Skin tags, those pesky little skin growths, can be more than just an aesthetic annoyance. They seem to sprout up overnight and can be a source of frustration and embarrassment.

While harmless, their appearance can be bothersome, and the temptation to remove them yourself is often strong. But before you reach for the scissors, let’s dispel some common myths surrounding skin tags and skin tag removal.

What are Skin Tags and Why Do They Appear?

what are skin tags

Skin tags are small, benign skin growths that typically hang like soft, fleshy peduncles on the skin’s surface. They are made up of excess collagen and blood vessels, and can range in size from a pinhead to a pea.

Usually, they can be as small as 1mm or as big as 1cm. However, there are also larger ones that can grow up to 5cm. These larger ones are more commonly found on the buttocks, groin, and limbs.

They can commonly appear in various areas of the body, including:

  1. Below the breasts
  2. On the eyelids
  3. In the groin area
  4. Where neck creases form or where clothing and jewellery may rub against the neck
  5. Under the arms

While the exact cause of skin tags remains unknown, there are various theories as to why they develop:

  • Obesity: Tags can be caused by frequent rubbing of the skin against itself in body folds, which is more common in overweight or obese individuals.
  • Friction: Tags can also develop due to friction from clothing and jewellery rubbing against the skin.
  • Diabetes: Insulin resistance, which is associated with diabetes, may contribute to the growth of skin tags.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): Some studies suggest that HPV may play a role in their development.
  • Genetics: Genetic factors can also contribute to their development, as some individuals have a predisposition to them.
  • Ageing: It can lead to their formation due to increased friction over time and loss of skin elasticity.
  • Hormones: Hormonal changes, such as those during pregnancy or in conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can also contribute to the development of skin tags.

Contrary to popular belief, skin tags aren’t contagious – you can’t spread them to others through touch.

Do Skin Tags Need to Be Removed?

do skin tags need removal

In most cases, skin tags are simply a cosmetic concern and require no medical intervention. They pose no health risks and rarely cause discomfort.

However, if they are rubbing against clothing or jewellery, causing irritation, inflammation, or bleeding, then removal might be considered. If they are located in a highly visible area or causing significant emotional distress, seeking professional help for removal is perfectly understandable.

While removal is entirely optional, there are valid reasons to consider it:

  • Cosmetics: They can affect self-confidence, especially in visible areas.
  • Discomfort: If it becomes irritated or starts bleeding from friction, or if it develops on your eyelid and affects your eyesight.
  • Hygiene: Skin tags in areas like underarms or folds can trap sweat and debris, leading to infection.
  • Medical reasons: Rare instances involve inflammation, rapid growth, or difficulty diagnosing another skin condition due to the tag’s presence.

Skin Tag Removal: DIY & Over-the-Counter (OTC) Methods

Rubbing, tying, or cutting them off yourself is a big no-no. Improper removal can lead to infection, scarring, and even unwanted regrowth.

However, some home remedies have been popular in recent year:

  • Apple cider vinegar: Soaking a cotton swab in apple cider vinegar and applying it to the skin tag daily for several weeks can cause it to dry out and fall off. However, this method is unproven and can irritate the skin.
  • Tea tree oil: Similar to apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil can be applied topically to dry out the skin tag. However, like vinegar, it can be irritating and its effectiveness is anecdotal.
  • Dental floss: Some anecdotal evidence suggests tying dental floss around the base of the skin tag to cut off its blood supply. However, this is a dangerous and potentially harmful practice and should never be attempted.

Skin Tag Removal: Seeking Professional Help From a Dermatologist

For quicker, more reliable results, consulting a dermatologist or healthcare professional is your best bet. They can offer minimally invasive procedures with minimal downtime.

Choosing the right method depends on factors like the size and location of the skin tag, your pain tolerance, and your desired healing time. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular options available in Singapore:

  • Cryosurgery: This quick and relatively painless procedure involves applying liquid nitrogen to the skin tag, effectively freezing and destroying its tissue. Ideal for small, isolated tags, cryotherapy boasts minimal downtime and scarring.
  • Electrocautery: A small electric current burns off the skin tag, resulting in immediate removal. While slightly more intrusive than cryotherapy, electrocauterization is suitable for slightly larger tags and offers faster healing.
  • Ligation: This involves tying a suture around the base of the skin tag, cutting off its blood supply and causing it to fall off within a few days. It’s a simple procedure with minimal scarring, but can be slightly uncomfortable.
  • Surgical excision: For larger or recurring ones, surgical excision with a scalpel may be necessary. While it is the most invasive of the bunch, this method offers complete removal and minimises the risk of regrowth. The procedure typically involves local anesthesia and minimal stitches. Recovery is similar to other minor surgeries.

Important Considerations Before Skin Tag Removal

skin tag removal singapore

Before embarking on any removal journey, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional. This is especially important for:

  • Skin tags located on sensitive areas like eyelids or genitals.
  • Individuals with diabetes or other medical conditions that affect wound healing.
  • Skin tags that are large, inflamed, or possibly cancerous.

The Cost of Skin Tag Removal

The costs in Singapore vary depending on the chosen method, the number and size of tags, and the clinic’s fees.

Cryotherapy and ligation can start from around S$80 per tag, while electrocauterisation and surgical excision might cost upwards of S$300.

Some clinics offer package deals for multiple skin tags, making them more cost-effective. Remember, prioritising the professionalism and qualifications of the practitioner is always paramount over chasing the cheapest option.

The Best Clinics to Visit for Skin Tag Removal

Pre-Removal and Post-Removal Care and Prevention

Prior to your chosen removal method, your doctor will provide specific instructions to ensure optimal results. These may include avoiding blood-thinning medications, keeping the area clean, and potentially applying numbing cream.

Post-treatment care is equally important. Expect some mild redness and swelling, which can be eased with ice packs and pain medication. Keep the area clean and dry, follow your doctor’s cleaning and ointment regimen religiously, and avoid picking or scratching.

Remember, patience and proper care are key to achieving smooth, beautiful, and skin tag-free skin!

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