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Removing a skin tag at home is not recommended – Akinyinka

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Dr. Modupe Akinyinka, a Senior lecturer and Consultant Public Health Physician at Department of Community Health and Primary Health Care, Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), said removing skin tag at home is not normally recommended, due to risk of bleeding and possible infection. She spoke to PAUL ADUNWOKE on prevention and treatment of the condition.

What is a skin tag?
A skin tag is a small piece of soft, hanging skin that may have a peduncle, or stalk. It can appear anywhere on the body, but especially where skin rubs against other skin or clothing. It is a benign, noncancerous, tumour of the skin.

What are the causes of skin tag?
It is not clear exactly what causes skin tags, but they are more common in skin creases or folds. They may be mainly caused by skin rubbing against skin. Risk factors include being overweight and obese, people with diabetes or hypertension especially women during pregnancy, people with some types of human papilloma virus (HPV), people with a sex-steroid imbalance, especially if there are changes in hormone levels and people whose close family members also have skin tags, among others.

Are there ways to prevent?
There is no prevention. It is not possible to prevent skin tags, but chances of developing them may be reduced by avoiding the risk factors mentioned above.

What are the treatments?
Treatment modalities include the following, although it is only a dermatologist, a specialist skin doctor, or a similarly trained medical professional that should undertake these procedures: Cauterisation, where the skin tag is burnt off, using electrolysis. Cryosurgery is a treatment, where the skin tag is frozen off using a probe containing liquid nitrogen.

Ligation is where the blood supplying the skin tag is interrupted. Excision is where the tag is cut out with a scalpel. However, skin tags on the eyelid, especially those close to the eyelid margin, may have to be removed by an ophthalmologist, or specialist eye doctor.

Removing a skin tag at home is not normally recommended, due to the risk of bleeding and possible infection.

What are the signs and symptoms of skin tag?
Except for cosmetic appearance, skin tags generally cause no physical pain or discomfort. These tiny skin growths generally cause symptoms only when they are repeatedly irritated (for example, by the collar). The following symptoms and signs may necessitate skin tag removal: If it has become irritated and red from bleeding (hemorrhage) or black from twisting, and death of the skin tissue (necrosis). Sometimes, the tags may be caught and dragged by clothing, jewelry, pets, or seat belts, causing pain or discomfort.

What should people know about skin tag?
People should know that skin tags are not dangerous, but they can be removed for aesthetic and cosmetic reasons. So, people should exercise frequently to avoid obesity and other modifiable risk factors for developing skin tags. This will help keep you lively and healthy, even if you have skin tags. If the skin tag changes colour and does not fall off in a few days, please see your doctor.


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