Skin tags during pregnancy are annoying. These pesky little flesh bulbs are a nuisance to your appearance. And if they happen to rub against your skin or clothes, they can be oh so painful! The only saving grace is that they are not harmful for you or your baby. So however much you may want to get rid of them, hold on till childbirth.
Meanwhile, here’s all you need to know about pregnancy skin tags, including safe remedies you could try at home.
Skin Tags Are Benign Skin Growths
Skin tags (acrochordons) are small fleshy protrusions that may be attached to a tiny stalk on the skin. But the stalk is not a distinguishing feature; some skin tags may lack the stalk.
Some studies categorize pregnancy skin tags under benign skin tumors and refer to them as molluscum fibrosum gravidarum.1
Size: They usually measure a fraction of an inch or even smaller than a rice grain, but they can sometimes grow larger.
Color: Skin tags are the color of your skin or a little darker.
Location: These harmless things are found usually in the folds of your skin or in parts that are hot, such as the eyelids, face, neck, armpits, underarm, upper chest, beneath the breasts, the inner thighs, and the genital and anal areas.
Skin Tags Are Common During Pregnancy
Skin tags usually make an appearance in
- Pregnant women
- People above 50
- Overweight people
You may get skin tags for the first time during pregnancy. But you can get them before pregnancy too, especially if you are overweight or have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or diabetes.2
Overweight and diabetes are associated with metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by high levels of triglycerides, blood sugar, insulin, insulin resistance, and the hunger hormone leptin and low levels of HDL, the beneficial cholesterol. And skin tags are associated with metabolic syndrome.3
Some skin tags can also be caused by the low-risk human papillomavirus infections.4
Pregnancy Skin Tags May Be Caused By Hormonal Changes
The hormone estrogen causes skin changes during pregnancy. It may also be responsible for skin tags.
During pregnancy, new skin tags may crop up in multiple places or the old ones might multiply.
The exact reason why skin tags develop is not yet established. The standard theory is that hormonal changes, especially during the second half of the pregnancy, increase the production of skin cells and multiply the number of skin tags.
It is possible that estrogen and a type of white blood cells, called mast cells, are involved in the making of skin tags.5 While estrogen is the hormone responsible for skin changes during pregnancy, such as dark patches on the skin or darkening of the nipples, mast cells are known to increase the production of collagen, the protein that makes up your skin.6
Another reason for skin tags could be the increase in weight that pregnancy brings about.
Based on their location, you could say there are 3 types of skin tags: cutaneous, genital, and anal. Cutaneous skin tags are the ones you can find anywhere on your skin. The genital and anal skin tags are found on the vulva and in the anal region, respectively, and these may sometimes hurt because of their friction with your clothes.
Note: Do not misdiagnose your genital wart as a skin tag. Warts are caused by viral infections and require treatment.
Some Skin Tags Disappear After Childbirth
Skin tags aren’t dangerous. Though a study suggests that they may be associated with an increased risk of hypertensive disorders during pregnancy,7 more research is required. They aren’t normally painful unless they get pulled by your jewelry or your clothes. Some skin tags usually disappear after pregnancy. But if they don’t disappear by themselves, you can rely on natural remedies.
Natural Remedies To Remove Skin Tags During Pregnancy
Skin tags are usually removed with surgery – either by cauterizing (burning) or freezing them. But they can wait until your baby is delivered. Skin tag removal creams may not be good for the baby, and the surgical methods might add to your pregnancy stress.
If your skin tags are small, try these 3 natural remedies after childbirth:
- Tea tree oil: Soak a cotton ball into 100% natural tea tree oil and apply it on the area. Be careful not to rub the skin tag too hard. Leave it on for a while. You can do this 2–3 times a day. Since the oil can be very drying, dilute it with olive oil if you have a dry skin type.
- Apple cider vinegar: Clean the area. Soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and rub it on the skin tag 3 times a day for several days. In a few days, the skin tag will change color and fall off. It’s best to do a patch test first because apple cider vinegar can cause chemical burns.
- Tie it with a thread: Wind a cotton thread or even dental floss around the base of the skin tag to cut off the blood supply. It should wither in time and fall off. This process is known as ligation.
Because some skin tags may also be caused by metabolic syndrome, changing your lifestyle once the lactation period is over can help you.
If the skin tags are bigger in size, don’t attempt to remove them by yourself. They could bleed. Go to your doctor and she would remove them by freezing or cauterizing them. The tags do not contain nerves, so the process should be painless.8
|↑1||Errickson, Carla V., and Nancy R. Matus. “Skin disorders of pregnancy.” American family physician 49, no. 3 (1994): 605-610.|
|↑2||Diabetes: 12 Warning Signs That Appear On Your Skin. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑3, ↑4||El Safoury, Omar S., Rania M. Abdel Hay, Marwa M. Fawzy, Dina Kadry, Iman M. Amin, Ola M. Abu Zeid, and Laila A. Rashed. “Skin tags, leptin, metabolic syndrome and change of the life style.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology 77, no. 5 (2011): 577.|
|↑5||Mohamed, Alaa A., Abd El-Aziz El-Rifaie, Yasser Gohary, A. Khalid, and Ahmed Abd-Eltawab. “Serum Progesterone and Estradiol Levels and the Mast Cells Count in Skin Tags among Healthy Pregnant and Non-Pregnant Women: Correlation with Age of Pregnancy and Phases of the Menstrual Cycle.” Aljouf University Medical Journal 2, no. 3 (2015): 47-56.|
|↑6||El Safoury, Omar Soliman, Marwa M. Fawzy, Zeinab M. El Maadawa, and Dalia H. Mohamed. “Quantitation of mast cells and collagen fibers in skin tags.” Indian journal of dermatology 54, no. 4 (2009): 319.|
|↑7||Park, Yeonjung, Sanjay Patwardhan, and Eugene Chang. “Association Between Skin Tags and Acanthosis nigricans With GDM and Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy [39L].” Obstetrics & Gynecology 129 (2017): S131-S132.|
|↑8||Pennys, Neal S. “Skin tags do not contain cutaneous nerves.” Archives of dermatology 126, no. 12 (1990): 1654-1655.|