Skin tags, or acrochordons, are small growths of skin that hang off the body from a thin stalk. They can develop on several areas of the body, but they most often occur in areas where the skin folds, such as the armpits, groin, and neck. They can also develop on the eyelids.
Skin tags consist of collagen and blood vessels with a covering of skin. They can be the same color as the surrounding skin or slightly darker.
Skin tags are a common skin condition and develop in about 25%Trusted Source of the population. They are harmless and do not cause pain unless they rub against clothing, which can make them sore.
This article outlines the causes of skin tags and the procedures that people can undergo to remove them. It also examines the risks involved with removal procedures.
Skin tags occur due to excess cell growth in the upper layers of the skin.
Some people develop skin tags due to genetic reasons or as a result of unknown causes, but there are a few other factors that can increase the chance of developing them. These include:
- Body size: People with overweight and obesity have a higher chance of developing skin tags due to extra folds of skin rubbing against each other.
- Age: Older adults seem to be more likely to develop skin tags, so they may be a part of the natural aging process.
- Pregnancy: Pregnant women are more likely to develop skin tags due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. These tags typically disappear after giving birth.
In a 2010 study that took place in Brazil, researchers found a strong association between people with insulin resistance and diabetes and the development of skin tags.
The study authors also note that there may be a correlation between skin tags and Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome, as well as the human papillomavirus.
Treatment and removal
Although they are harmless, having large skin tags around the eyes can obscure vision, so some people may want them removed. Others may decide to remove them for cosmetic reasons.
Sometimes, skin tags can fall off by themselves. This may happen if the stalk becomes twisted, cutting off the blood supply to the skin tag.
People should not attempt to remove skin tags at home before talking to their doctor. Doctors can easily remove skin tags in their office, and this can reduce the risk of infection from improper removal.
However, if the procedure does not remove all of the skin tag, it may grow back.
A doctor can use a variety of medical procedures to remove skin tags from the eyelids. The sections below discuss these in more detail.
A doctor can use cryotherapy to freeze the skin tag off. To do so, they will soak a pair of forceps in liquid nitrogen, then pinch the skin tag with the forceps to freeze it off. The doctor will repeat this process for each skin tag present.
People may need repeat treatments to remove all skin tags.
A doctor can also use a small pair of sterile scissors to cut smaller skin tags off. They do this by cutting through the thin stalk that attaches the skin tag to the eyelid.
They may then use an electrical probe to stop any bleeding that occurs.
A doctor can use a device to transmit an electric current to burn off the skin tag. This method can be very effective, and it also prevents any bleeding after removal.
A doctor may give a person an anesthetic if they are removing a larger skin tag.
Risks of removal
If a person wants to remove a skin tag from their eyelid, they should consult a doctor about which method will be the safest and most effective, as there can be risks involved.
The following sections describe these risks in more detail.
People should not attempt to remove any large skin tags themselves, as this can cause significant bleeding.
If a person undergoes a surgical procedure to remove a skin tag, minor bleeding can occur. A doctor will be able to stop this bleeding and provide proper wound care advice to prevent infection.
If the removal procedure creates a larger wound, the person may require stitches.
There may be a risk of scarring with some forms of skin tag removal. People can talk to their healthcare provider about the potential of scars forming.
Although skin tags on the eyelids are usually harmless, they can cause irritation or obscure vision. As a result, a person may want to remove them.
A person should talk to their doctor about skin tag removal options, as trying to remove them at home comes with risks — particularly around such a sensitive area.
Some people may choose to have a medical procedure to remove a skin tag. These people should also talk to their doctor about any potential risks or side effects.
In some cases, people may need repeat treatments to remove a skin tag completely.