If you see a small extra growth of skin on your baby’s body, then do not panic. It might be a skin tag. Skin tags on babies are small nodules of excess skin growth. The medical name for a skin tag is fibroma pendulum, fibroepithelial polyp or acrochordon (1). They are usually soft and fleshy to touch. In this post, we tell you about skin tags in babies and ways to manage them.
What Is A Skin Tag?
A skin tag is a small flap of tissue that hangs from the skin via a fleshy tissue called “stalk” or a “peduncle.” Skin tags are usually skin-colored and found on several parts of the body. If a tag twists on its stalk, then it may develop a blood clot, which may cause the skin tag to appear red or black in color.
The size of a tag could range from 1mm to 1cm. A skin tag is usually painless and not associated with any underlying disease.
Skin tags on babies could occur in these parts of the body (2).
Skin tags tend to grow in skin folds.Therefore, you may see them in various other places than those mentioned here.
The presence of skin tags on babies may not always indicate underlying pathology. However, there are a few known reasons that may lead to skin tags.
- Repeated friction of the skin may lead to the formation of skin tags (3). The friction could occur between two layers of skin or between the skin and any restrictive clothing.
- Skin tags may occur due to hereditary reasons since it is found to be more common among those with a family history of skin tags (4).
- Skin tags could be a result of in-utero development (5). It means some babies are born with the condition. Ear tags are often present at birth. Preauricular skin tags appear on the front of a baby’s ear .
- Some studies have noted a correlation between type-2 diabetes and the presence of skin tags (6). However, the association between the two is not conclusive.
- A few studies have noted an association between obesity and the formation of skin tags (6) (7). It is believed that obesity increases the risk of type-2 diabetes, which in turn may increase the risk of developing skin tags.
- A study noted the presence of Human papillomavirus (HPV)in skin tags of a few individuals (8). Skin tags may be a result of HPV infection in some cases.
All these studies are done on adults, and there are few studies on the reasons for skin tags on babies.
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Skin tags are not contagious. Exception are HPV skin tags (8). You should always seek a doctor’s advice to know if your baby’s skin tags are contagious.
Skin tags on a newborn are not harmful in most cases. A skin tag might cause discomfort if it comes in the way of closing a zip or buttoning the clothes. It is always recommended to seek a pediatrician’s advice if you spot a skin tag on a newborn, irrespective of whether the skin tag causes discomfort or not.
Ear tags are skin tags that appear close to the ear. They can be a cluster of fat, skin, and cartilage – all placed together in an appendage, which is medically called preauricular tag (5).It might happen due to improper fusion of the ear’s tissues during the development of the embryo (9).
Preauricular tags could manifest as tags or dimples. Ear tags may occur with other congenital abnormalities, such as cleft palate, heart defect, and conditions like Goldenhar Syndrome (9) (10). Speak to your newborn’s doctor about it.
A few natural remedies are considered helpful for skin tags on anecdotal accounts. These remedies may help shrink skin tags, thus making them disappear gradually. Do not try natural remedies if skin tags are in sensitive areas. Skin tags around eyes and groins are best left to be treated by a doctor. For skin tags on the torso or other non-sensitive parts, you could consider the following remedies.
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil was used in ancient times for skin ailments owing to its antimicrobial properties (11). It is unknown if they can work on skin tags. You may soak a cotton ball in tea tree oil and dab it on a skin tag several times a day for a few days.
- Banana peel: It is said that the insides of a banana peel might help the skin dry up and eventually cause the skin tag to fall. You can scrape the inside of a banana peel and apply the pulpy paste to a skin tag multiple times a day for a few days.
Natural remedies for skin tags are anecdotal, and there is no scientific backing to them. Also, infants can be sensitive to the items used as a remedy. Therefore, do not use natural remedies on newborns or infants.
Skin tags are not always troublesome and do not always need medical intervention.It is recommended to get them removed only if they are causing the baby trouble.The doctor may suggest any of the following treatments.
- Ligation: Ligation is a technique where a dental floss or a suture thread is used to tie the base of the tag tightly. It stops the blood flow to the skin tag. The skin tag dries gradually and falls off on its own. It is relatively cheap, painless, but an outdated method. It may take days for the skin tag to fall off after ligation (12).
- Excision: A sharp blade or pair of scissors is used to cut the skin tag from its stalk. The procedure is performed using topical anesthesia (12).
- Electrodesiccation: The skin tag is cauterized or removed using electrolysis. The procedure uses equipment that passes mild electric current to the tag to dry it before removal (12).
- Cryosurgery: This technique involves freezing the skin tag and subsequently removing it. It is frozen by holding with an instrument that is frosted using liquid nitrogen (12) (13). Removal of the tags by cryosurgery might need repeated visits to the doctor.
A doctor will suggest the best treatment option based on the type of skin tag and its location. If a skin tag is harmless, then they may suggest leaving it untouched.
Skin tags that do not bother your babies may be left untreated. If your baby’s doctor says that a skin tag does not require treatment, then there is nothing to worry about it. You may have to take the baby to a doctor for a periodic examination of the tag. It is a good idea to document photographs of the tags at regular time intervals to monitor any changes in size, shape, or color.
Always report bleeding, change in color or size, and swelling in the tag to a doctor.
Skin tags seldom lead to any problems in babies. Most likely, your baby may not require any treatment if they are not bothered by the skin tag and are overall healthy. Monitoring a skin tag and periodic inspection by a doctor is probably all you may need.
Have something to share about skin tags in babies? Tell us by leaving a comment in the section below.
2. Metabolic Associations with Skin Tags; International Journal of Dermatology and Clinical Research.
3. Allegue F1, Fachal C and Pérez-Pérez L.; Friction induced skin tags.; Dermatology online journal.
4. Skin tags; American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, Missouri.
5. Ear Tags; The Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia
6. Khaled M El-Zawahry et al., Study of the possible relationship between skin tags and obesity in Egypt; The Egyptian Journal of Dermatology and Venereology.
7. Omar Soliman El Safoury and Magdy Ibrahim; A Clinical Evaluation Of Skin Tags In Relation To Obesity, Type 2 Diabetis Mellitus, Age, And Sex; Indian Journal of Dermatology
8. Sachin Gupta et al., Human papillomavirus and skin tags: Is there any association?; Indian Journal of Dermatology, venereology and Leprology
9. Evaluation of Newborns with Preauricular Skin Lesions; American Family Physician.
10. Goldenhar syndrome: Report of two cases with review of literature; Chrismed Journal of Health and Research
11. C. F. Carson, K. A. Hammer, and T. V. Riley; Melaleucaalternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties ; Clinical Microbiology Reviews.
12. Robert L. Finney Jr and N. Benjamin Fredrick; Procedures: Skin Tag (Acrochordon) removal; Penn State Hershey Medical Center, PA
13. Jay E. Taylorand W.E. Osmun; Just a pinch, Technique for skin tag removal in sensitive areas; Canadian Family Physician.
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