Your skin reflects the health of your body, especially during pregnancy. Skin is one part of the that is likely to go through significant changes at this time.
For instance, pimples or rashes could be a sign of irritants or allergens, and flushed cheeks could indicate increased blood flow. Similarly, skin protrusions or skin tags also occur during pregnancy. But why do they occur? Are they harmful in any way? Read this MomJunction post to know about skin tags during pregnancy, their causes, treatment options and more.
Skin tags are tiny, soft and loose skin growths consisting of loose collagen fibers and blood vessels. Also known as acrochordons or soft fibromas, the tags develop in areas where skin rubs against skin, clothing or jewelry. It could be the folds of your neck, underarms, under the breasts, around your groin and upper and lower eyelids (1). They happen especially during late pregnancy and advanced age but are harmless. They vary in size (2 to 5mm) and color (2).
There is not much research done about pregnancy skin tags as they are benign and appear due to changing hormonal levels. However, below we list some of the most common features:
- Skin tags are darker than normal skin hue because the skin is compressed in the tag, and the pigment is concentrated in that limited region.
- They form in the areas where it is hot or moist and have limited air circulation.
- They are likely to increase in number with progressing pregnancy as the belly rubs against the clothing.
- They are painful only when twisted or injured.
- They mostly develop during the second and third trimesters.
- They could be unnoticeable and become evident after the childbirth.
Skin tags occur at any time in your life, just as they do during pregnancy. In the next section, let’s know the reasons for their appearance.
[ Read: Skin Problems During Pregnancy ]
- Hormones that stimulate the hyperactive growth of the superficial skin layer.
- The combination of hormonal activity and friction of skin caused by the extra weight.
- Heredity, age, and obesity factors.
Skin tags are not unique to pregnancy because they can occur even when you are not pregnant. Also, it is not necessary for every woman to get them during pregnancy. You are likely to develop skin tags if you are prone to them in general.
Skin tags do not affect the baby. They are a purely cosmetic issue, and could only cause discomfort in worst cases. There is no need to worry about them during pregnancy nor do they indicate an underlying health issue.
You may get them removed if you are uncomfortable about them.
Skin tags do not need treatment. But if they are too large, causing discomfort, you may pay a visit to the doctor. Treatment includes removal methods such as (5):
- Excision removal (Severing): The skin tag is carefully cut using a scalpel or surgical scissors. It is completely removed with only a tiny white or pink scar seen in that region.
- Cryotherapy (Freezing): Liquid nitrogen is swabbed or sprayed on the skin tag. This gas freezes the tissue and kills the cells, thereby blocking the blood supply to that area. It causes the tag to fall off the skin naturally and heals on its own.
- Hyfrecation (Burning): An electric pulse is passed into the skin tag to damage the cells. The heat burns the stem of the skin tag and causes it to fall off. Anesthetic is applied before the treatment to make it a painless procedure.
If the skin tags are very small, they can be removed by tying a thin cotton thread or dental floss at the base to stop the blood flow to the tags but it is good to consult a doctor. Even after removal, skin tags are likely to come back later in other areas.
It is not a good idea to try removing skin tags at home. You may be tempted to pull, twist or scratch them, but it could be painful and harmful too. It can cause bleeding, infection, and scarring.
In some cases, they fall off on their own. Therefore, it is wise to wait for natural healing to occur. If skin tags do not disappear on their own, you may take any of the above treatments after discussing with your doctor.
How Long Does It Take For A Skin Tag To Fall Off?
Few of the skin tags that appear during pregnancy may fall off in a few months after the childbirth (1). They either fall off or shrink away due to the lack of blood supply (as compared to blood circulation during pregnancy). Only well-developed and larger skin tags may need a dermatologic intervention.
As pregnancy skin tags occur mainly due to the hormonal changes, there is nothing much you can do to prevent them from popping up. You can only avoid the friction of the skin and keep it healthy. You may take the below measures to mitigate the chances of getting skin tags:
- Do not wear tight clothing as it could rub against the skin.
- Avoid jewelry that is tight and makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Keep the skin dry. Shower some talc on regions prone to wetness.
[ Read: Moles During Pregnancy ]
Skin tags and warts look alike, but you can look out for these differences (5).
|Soft and smooth||Rough with irregular surfaces|
|Raised and loosely hang from the skin||Flat or slightly raised|
|Non-contagious||Contagious, spread easily|
Skin tags are not a condition to worry about. They are a minor problem, and if you find them irritating, you can see a doctor to get them removed. Though removal is curative,.
Did you face any skin concerns when pregnant? Share your story with us in the comment section below.
2. Han Ma et al.; Giant skin tag on the labium majorum; Int J Womens Dermatol (2015)
3. Catherine C. Motosko et al., Physiologic changes of pregnancy: A review of the literature; International Journal of Women’s Dermatology
4. Cutaneous skin tag; UF Health; University of Florida Health
5. Skin tags; NHS (2016)
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