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Tulloch's Health Tip: Skin Tags 
(cutaneous papilloma or an acrochordon)
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Multiple Skin Tags      Single Skin Tag

Skin Tags Facts

Skin tags most often occur after the age of thirty, but they are also found in infants as young as one day old. They are in the same family of moles. They are soft, small, flesh-colored or other-colored protrusions, usually occurring in multiples on the neck, eyelids, armpits and groin. Skin tags are generally harmless but may be irritating, especially if they catch on clothing or rub against your collar.

Researchers don't know why these growths occur, but some sources claim gaining weight can increase and speed up the growth of skin tags.  The old theory of a relationship between skin tags and colon cancer has been debunked.

Most skin tags are benign (non-cancerous), but if they are painful, unsightly or restrict movement, you may want to have them removed. You may want them removed for cosmetic reasons. Surgery is usually recommended to remove any skin lesion that shows any sign of turning cancerous, for example, a mole that has changed shape or color.

Surgery

Depending where the skin tags are located they can be removed by surgery. If the skin tags are small enough they can be snipped off with the aid of topical anesthetic. When removed by snipping, skin tags do not usually bleed. They may also be "shaved" off or excised. For an excellent description of surgical removal of skin lesions see: http://hcd2.bupa.co.uk/fact_
sheets/html/skin_lesions.html

Non-surgical approaches

Removal of skin tags is considered to be very low risk. Your General Practice physician is qualified to remove skin tags using any of the following methods. 

  • Freezing the tag with liquid nitrogen
  • Strangulation or tying off the tag with a thread or suture - cuts off the blood supply
  • Cutting off the tag with a scalpel or scissors. 
  • "Shaving" it off
  • Electrocautery 

These procedures generally involve little or no patient discomfort. However, they all tend to leave scars. I would think that any of these procedures can be done by the careful layman.

I tried the "strangulation" method. It's very difficult to tie the thread while pulling outward on the skin tag. A third hand would really help. Despite having the thread fall off every day or two - especially as the tag shrank - I found the tag and thread on my pillow in about five days. No pain. Impossible for small tags. Type of thread - cotton. No scar, no residual lump, no reccurance.

I imagine that the recently available CO2 wart removal devices would work (Note: Chemical wart removers don't work.). For the brave, using a new, sterilized razor to cut off the tag after applying a topical anesthetic and cleaning the skin with alcohol seems safe. They don't tend to bleed very much.

Topical Treatment

The generally accepted belief is that there are no chemical, nutritional, or biological methods to removing skin tags. However, Loren Pickart, Ph.D. suggests a chemical approach.

1. She finds that a topical application of two products reduce or remove skin tags.

She suggests using hydroxy acids to loosen and very gradually dissolve the skin tag. She then suggests using copper peptides to help rebuild new skin. She says that dermatologists have know for a long time that hydroxy acids  remove skin tags in some individuals. The problem has been irritation.

Using copper peptides after the hydroxy acids reduces irritation and aids recovery of normal skin. Copper peptides alone may help remove the skin tag.  Tags are slowly reduced or removed. This process is an extension of the chemical peel method used to remove scars. Adding copper peptides reduces irritation. The process is slow and requires daily application of the two chemicals.  And, it may not work for all skin types.

2. Dr. Peckart recommends the brands of hydroxy acids  and copper peptides she markets: Exfol Cream and TriReduction P&R with retinol. She suggests rubbing the hydroxy acids into the tag in the morning and  rubbing the copper peptides into the tag at night.

3. As suggested, this is a slow process. It requires daily application. Evaluate the progress after two months. If you don't see substantial improvement, then aquire a stronger hydroxy acid. for stronger hydroxys see http://www.scar-reduction.com.

4. Dr Peckart also reports some individuals successfully remove some skin tags with copper peptides alone. She, of course, recomments her brands: Super Cop or Super CP Serum. 

Dr Peckart.s products can be found on her website: http://www.skinbio.com/
quickskintags.html

Additional methods have helped some folks. These include:

  • Applying a tight bandage containing silver fibers (one brand is FORMEDICA)
  • Coating with New Skin Liquid Bandage
    (Didn't work for me)
  • Applying Castor Oil - put some on a Band-Aid, and cover the tag.
  • Removing sugar from the diet works for some folks.
  • Applying a Band-Aid Clear Spot tightly removes them in a week or two.
  • The new scar treatments also work for some.

Notice: The brands presented here have not been tested by the author. Nor should this information be considered a recommendation by the author. Use this information sensibly. You are responsible for your own health!

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Copyright Michael V. Tulloch, PhD 2011 All rights reserved.