Skin Tags on Kids: Everything You Need to Know
Dr. Angel Rivera
Regardless of how observant you are, as a parent, you have likely noticed any random changes to your child’s skin. And it can be slightly worrying when, from one day to the next, a fleshy wart-like lump appears on their face, armpit, or groin. Questions will start popping into your head with regards to what it could be, whether or not is skin cancer, and, more importantly, what you should do about it and if you should visit your Physician.
Fortunately, these little outgrowths of excess skin are usually just skin tags and to help you understand them further, we have explained everything you need to know about skin tags on kids in this article.
What Is a Skin Tag?
While the little growths might look alarming, rest assured that a skin tag or even multiple skin tags are merely pieces of extra skin that have a tendency to bulge out at the end. Children are rarely born with them and they are most likely to form where friction between skin surfaces tends to happen. While they commonly occur in children and the elderly, skin tags can affect people of all ages.
A skin tag can be found almost anywhere on the skin’s surface, but most commonly in the following areas:
- Areas of the body that tend to rub together or where creases are present
- The groin
And while skin tags are not painful a tall, they can become irritated and bleed when touched. If this is the case with skin tags you have found on your child’s body, then it may be time to contact a dermatologist to seek professional advice.
What Causes Skin Tags?
The exact cause of skin tags still remains unclear, but there are a few factors that come into play when it comes to children being susceptible to developing them. Here are a few of the main causes.
If Your Child Had a Virus
If your child has started developing fleshy bumps on different parts of the body, it could be as a result of having a virus. There are certain viruses such as HPV that lay dormant in the body for a while and if you are a carrier of HPV, skin tags are likely to show up at some stage in childhood and even adulthood. Mollu scum virus is also contagious and spread by bodily contact. It also lives on surfaces and towels in your home and is most likely to affect kids under the age of 10.
Dermatologists worldwide have theorized for a long time that skin tags are created by friction between the skins. For example, children who are overweight are more at risk of developing skin tags in areas that feature skin folds. Most commonly, the skin tags will form around the armpits and neck. If your child rubs their eyes a lot, you could also see skin tags appearing on their upper eyelids.
Studies have determined that there is a genetic predisposition to the appearance of skin tags. So, if you have skin tags, then this could be one of the reasons that your child has them too.
Do Skin Tags Need to Be Removed?
Unless a skin tag is causing your child irritation, they don’t need to be removed. That said, children don’t have the same filters that we adults do and some kids might feel inadequate if they have a larger skin tag on their face, for example. If your child’s skin tag is painless and not causing them any issues (both physical and mental) then you can just leave it where it is. If your child has expressed a wish to have the skin tag removed because it makes them feel self-conscious, then you will be pleased to hear that you can remove skin tags easily with over the counter solutions, at home, or with the help of a dermatologist.
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My Son Has Decided He Wants His Skin Tags Removed: What Do We Do Now?
If your child has expressed that they would feel better having skin tags removed, then your first port of call should always be to seek advice from your dermatologist before proceeding with any over the counter or home remedies. We mentioned earlier that skin tags are very rarely cancerous and there is only really cause for concern if they are painful or bleeding.
From a medical standpoint, there are essentially only two types of skin tags:
- Common – these skin tags will not go away unless you remove them, yet they are not harmful. Removal would only be for aesthetic reasons and it’s a personal choice.
- Irritated – the skin tags will be sore, itchy or they will bleed. In this case, your skin specialist will advise you further.
Here are some of the different options that are commonly used to remove both types of skin tags when they are present in children.
How to Remove Common Skin Tags
This type of skin tag is most commonly treated via the use of over-the-counter solutions. The treatment works by cutting off the blood flow and oxygen to the skin tag, usually at the point where it connects to the body. There is a huge range of products available from wart removal kits you can purchase online or at your local drug store, to tea tree oil (for those who prefer to take a more natural approach to eliminating skin tags.) Like most things in life, it is a case of trial and error and see which method works best for you.
If your child has several skin tags, or they are larger, then you can request to have your doctor surgically remove them. If you feel more comfortable using this method, then medical options include:
- Laser treatment
- Surgical removal with a scalpel
There is no reason to be concerned, as all of these procedures will be performed on an outpatient basis and they are entirely painless, quick and recovery times are minimal.
How to Remove Irritated Skin Tags
If you notice that your child’s skin tags have become irritated (itchy or bleeding or sore) then it is advisable to speak to your physician right away. It is most likely that your dermatologist will want to surgically remove the growth and then possibly run a biopsy on it. This is no cause for concern, but irritated skin tags can indicate the possibility of another medical condition and, in this day and age, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Most procedures can be performed under local anesthetic and do not require a visit to the hospital.
Is There a Link Between Skin Tags and Cancer?
To put it simply, a skin tag is just a benign growth on the skin. There is not a direct link between a skin tag and cancer, but abnormalities do exist, especially when it comes to skin growths.
If you are concerned about the skin tags that you have noticed on your child, then just be mindful of any changes. For example, if a skin tag starts itching, changing in size or bleeding, then this could be a symptom of a more serious skin condition. This doesn’t mean it is cancerous, but it does mean that it’s not entirely normal.
The best thing to do as a parent is to remain vigilant of any new or existing growths and if you notice any sudden changes, get a medical opinion to put your mind at rest.
Will Skin Tags Go Away by Themselves?
While small skin tags have been reported to fall off on occasion, normally once they appear, they are here to stay. Most skin tags simply look like a mole and blend into the skin, but others can be large and floppy. If your child isn’t bothered about having a skin tag, then there is no need to take immediate action, as they can always get it removed if it starts to affect their self-esteem further down the line.
As parents, it is entirely natural to worry about any abnormalities you might notice in your child. A sudden growth overnight (such as a skin tag) can be alarming, but it’s important to remember that skin tags are entirely normal and very common in both children and adults these days. Fortunately, the Internet is privy to a wealth of information on the topic of skin tags and other skin conditions and as long as you make sure to do your research via reputable online publications, you will be able to find a wealth of information to help you put your mind at rest.
When it comes to skin tags in children, skin tags can be a sensitive issue—especially if they are large and present in obvious areas like the face or neck. Obesity in children can be a massive contributing factor in how likely your child is to develop skin tags, in which case it is always a good idea to take preventative measures by ensuring your child eats a balanced diet and takes part in plenty of exercise.