Skin tags (acrochordons or soft fibromas) are tiny soft bumps (about 1 mm to 1 cm) that can form on the skin. They are attached to the skin by a thin tissue known as a stalk.
Skin tags can form anywhere. However, they are more common on skin that folds or wrinkles (e.g., the armpits, neck, groin, under the breasts, or even eyelids).1 According to research, 25% of people have at least one skin tag.2
Although skin tags can affect your cosmetic appearance, there are usually no significant health risks involved. But they can be troublesome when they pop up under or around the eyes.
For example, skin tags can grow on eyelid edges, causing eye irritation or vision issues. Doctors may recommend removing them in these cases.
What Causes Skin Tags Under Eyes?
There is no known cause of skin tags, but scientists have found certain medical conditions and other factors may increase their risk of developing. People with obesity are more likely to have skin tags because of the extra skin that folds.3
In addition to increased body mass index (BMI), other possible causes include:
Skin elasticity decreases with age due to reduced collagen production. This may cause bumpy growths in areas where the skin folds often, such as the eyelids. Skin tags often affect middle-aged and older adults.
Skin tags are common in pregnant women. They can form on the face, chest, neck, or beneath the breasts. This is linked to high levels of estrogen and progesterone, which can affect skin health. Luckily, these skin tags usually disappear after childbirth.
Research shows people with skin tags have higher levels of insulin growth factor (IGF-1) and epidermal growth factor (EGF).4
The abundance of growth cells could be why skin tags form in certain places, like under the eyes. More research is needed to understand how these growth factors influence skin tag formation.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is commonly known to cause warts. However, some studies have detected the presence of HPV in biopsied skin tags.5 These findings suggest a link between HPV infection and the emergence of skin tags under the eyes.
Additional Risk Factors
The following factors can increase the risk of developing skin tags:
- Family history of skin tags
- Health issues like obesity, diabetes, or skin disorders, such as Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome
- Insulin resistance
- Elevated leptin and C-reactive protein
Are Skin Tags a Cause for Concern?
Skin tags are harmless in any part of the body. If you develop skin tags on your eyelids, they’ll need to be removed if they cause any of the following complications:
- Eye discomfort. You may feel like an object is hanging on your eyelid whenever you blink.
- Vision obstruction. Some skin tags may grow on the eyelid edges, affecting your ability to see.
- Eye pain, redness, and swelling around the eyes. These conditions can develop if a skin tag is sensitive to facial products and other chemicals.
- Itchiness. Itchy skin tags can lead to constant scratching, increasing the risk of bleeding and pain around the growth area.
Skin tags on the eyelids can also affect appearance, which is concerning for some people. If you have any of these concerns, consult your doctor for treatment options.
How to Treat a Skin Tag Under Your Eye
If an eyelid skin tag starts to interfere with your vision or appearance, it can be removed with medical treatments or at-home remedies.
Below are some potential ways to remove skin tags at home. Most remedies involve drying the skin tag until it falls off.
Note that these remedies might not work for everyone, and many aren’t scientifically proven.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is believed to remove skin tags, but there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support this theory. Apple cider vinegar may cause skin damage due to its acidity.7 Applying it on a skin tag will cause it to die, dry and fall off.
Apply apple cider vinegar on the skin tag using a cotton ball for 30 to 45 minutes daily for a couple of weeks to achieve results. Avoid this remedy if you risk getting the solution into your eyes.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is known for its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties.
Studies have shown that tea tree oil has a dehydrating effect, which can be helpful for clearing up acne.8 Therefore, it could potentially dry up skin tags.
Apply diluted tea tree oil on your skin tag using a cotton swab and bandage the area overnight. Do this nightly until the skin tag dries up and falls off.
Banana peels have been identified to have antioxidant properties capable of drying out skin tags.9
Apply a piece of the banana peel on your closed eye and secure it with a bandage or eye patch. Do this nightly until the skin tag falls off.
Tying the Skin Tag
Small skin tags can be removed by tying a clean thread around their base to cut the blood supply. This allows them to dry out and fall off naturally.
Commercial kits with ligation bands and freezing supplies also exist to help remove skin tags at home. However, they’re not a better substitute for professional procedures.
Professional medical treatments for skin tags are more effective than home remedies. Some common treatments include:
- Cryotherapy. A doctor will freeze the skin tag using liquid nitrogen. The dead skin will then darken and fall off in about two weeks.10
- Ligation. This treatment involves tying the base of the skin tag. This cuts off blood supply, causing the skin tag to dry up and fall off within a few weeks.
- Electrocautery. A special electrical probe is used to apply heat and burn off the base of the skin tag. Burning prevents excessive bleeding when the skin tag is removed.
- Surgical removal. Surgery is recommended for large skin tags. A dermatologist or plastic surgeon will numb the area and cut off the skin tag completely using medical-grade scissors or a scalpel.
Recovery and Outlook
The treatment area will have an itchy sensation a few minutes after skin tag removal. You might also experience pain and redness, which will typically resolve within a few hours. Use over-the-counter pain medication, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen), if the pain is severe.
A crust will begin forming, usually 5 to 14 days after skin tag removal, at which time the pain and discomfort will stop. The crust should be left to fall off by itself.
Complete healing usually takes 2 to 6 weeks. In most cases, skin tags do not grow back after they’re removed.
Risks and Side Effects of Removal
The main risk following skin tag removal is an infection. Eyelids can be susceptible to inflammation, and any bacterial or viral infection can cause more complications.
Avoid touching the area to avoid infections. A bandage or eye patch can protect the site as it heals.
Other risks associated with skin tag removal include:
- Pain in the treatment area
- Scar formation
- Vision issues if done incorrectly
- Temporary loss of sensation in the treatment area
- Loss of pigmentation
- Loss of eyelashes in the treatment area
- Minor bleeding and blisters
- Healing problems
Infections after removing skin tags can cause damage to your eye and surrounding areas. Seek emergency assistance if you experience a high fever, severe inflammation, pus discharge, or vision changes.
Can You Prevent Skin Tags Under Eyes?
You can’t prevent skin tag growth, but you can keep them in check by:
- Completely drying your eyelids after bathing to avoid friction.
- Maintaining a healthy BMI (try yoga, weight training, jogging, walking, or sports).
- Hydrating your skin by drinking enough water.
- Contacting a dermatologist if you notice anything unusual with your eyes.
- Skin tags are tiny soft bumps (about 1 mm to 1 cm) that commonly form on the skin of older adults.
- Skin tags under the eyes are not a cause for concern unless they interfere with your quality of life.
- This minor skin condition can be attributed to older age, hormonal imbalances, weight, diabetes, insulin resistance, or genetics.
- Common medical treatments for skin tags include cryotherapy, ligation, electrocautery, and excision.
- There are also a few home remedies for skin tags (however, they aren’t scientifically proven to work).
- Drying eyelids well after bathing, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent skin tag formation.
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