What It Means When a Skin Tag is Painful to Touch
Dr. Angel Rivera
Skin tags aren’t normally a red color and source of pain, but there are situations when they can feel very uncomfortable. So, what does it mean when a skin tag hurts when you touch it? They usually only start to hurt ‘if’ they’ve become irritated or infected in some way.
You may be concerned that you have skin cancer (malignant melanoma). If you’ve experienced sun-damaged skin in the past 12 months, it’s a good idea to get the health of an acrochordon (the medical name) scrutinized by a doctor or dermatologist.
It’s important to note that most of the medical conditions associated with painful skin tags are completely harmless. Let’s not forget that skin tags are a benign growth. Millions have them for their entire life with no ill effects at all.
At-home skin tag removal is likely to be the best option. But, of course, you must make sure that the area is completely healed before you attempt to remove a skin tag from the face or body. This is to avoid further dermatological complications.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the causes of skin tag irritation and discomfort. We will then explore ways to address the problem safely.
Why Is a Skin Tag Painful to Touch?
Where the skin tag is located and how large it grows can play a large part in how painful it might become. Some areas, such as the nipples, are extremely sensitive. It takes much less to cause a skin tag on the nipple to start hurting. Other areas, such as neck, skin tags around the neck, are more likely to be irritated by clothing and jewelry. That’s despite the fact that the skin on the neck is more resilient.
Irritation could be caused by something as simple as taking shirts/blouses on and off. Or, if you wear a shirt every day, the collar could be rubbing against the skin tag. Any rubbing could cause the skin tag to become inflamed. That can cause irritation, which can be painful. You need to identify the ‘likely’ source of the problem so that it can be addressed.
Perhaps you pull on or pick at a skin tag. It can be hard to resist the temptation, but this will exacerbate the problem. It can even cause it to bleed, which in turn, can potentially cause more serious skin problems.
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Do You Have a Skin Tag Infection?
On some occasions, skin tags can become infected if there’s a small lesion in the skin. This is typically a result of friction or picking at the skin tag. If it starts bleeding due to the irritation, it is likely to hurt.
That pain shouldn’t be ignored, because it may be a symptom of infection. If your skin has become infected, it’s important that you seek out medical treatment to clear up the problem, so it doesn’t spread.
As explained earlier, you should not remove a skin tag until the infection has gone. If you don’t like the idea of removing a skin tag yourself, it’s a process that can be carried out by your doctor. If it’s infected and not just a cosmetic issue, the cost may be covered by your health insurance.
Is a Skin Tag That Hurts a Sign of Cancer?
Sometimes people don’t know that they have skin tags, depending on where on the body that they’re located. They can also be mistakenly identified as other similar-looking skin conditions. Anal skin tags, for example, are often mistaken for hemorrhoids and anal warts. You may experience pain when you go to the toilet. If you’re unsure what is wrong, you should see a doctor and get the right type of treatment.
Often pain will go hand-in-hand with other symptoms. This can include one or more of the following:
- Sudden growth for no reason
- The color keeps changing
- Weeping or bleeding
None of them are ‘normal’ for a skin tag, but they can still happen with no ill effects. Your doctor may decide to remove the skin tag and run a biopsy. A laboratory will perform some tests to check if it’s malignant. It’s almost always non-malignant, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s particularly important to check if there’s a history of cancer in your bloodline.
There are occasions when a skin tag will become twisted and turn black overnight. This has caused a blood clot to form, so it’s now a thrombosed skin tag. It may hurt initially, but it’s not a symptom of cancer. The skin tag has been deprived of oxygenated blood and will fall within 2 to 3 weeks.
Cancer, or other health issues, are rarely linked with these fleshy benign growths. Unfortunately, they do connect from time to time. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the position of any growths on your body. If they start to look different or cause pain, see a doctor immediately.
How to Ease Skin Tag Pain at Home
It’s likely that something external has caused a skin tag to become irritated. Again, one of your options is to remove the skin tag, but you do need to wait until it fully heals. That’s why you must be aware of things that are rubbing against it. Perhaps protect it with a band-aid until it recovers and you’re able to get it removed.
Skin tags are pedunculated, which means that they’re connected to the body by a thin stalk. If you do decide to remove a skin tag, it’s the stalk that you need to target. You must remove a skin tag at the bottom of the stalk so that it can be completely removed.
Removal can be performed medically (through a doctor) or by using an over-the-counter treatment, such as the top-rated TagBand removal device. How you proceed should be determined by the position of the skin tag and how confident you feel about carrying out the procedure yourself. They do sometimes grow in embarrassing and difficult-to-reach positions, such as the inner thigh, anus, and labia.