Causes, Symptoms & Treatment for Skin Tags in Pregnancy

Have you been noticing little rice-like skin formations on your body during your pregnancy? These little skin bumps you see are commonly known as skin tags and the medical terms for them are achrocordons, fibroepithelial polyps and soft fibromas. Don't let these semantic terms scare you. Skin tags during pregnancy are quite normal and common. These are usually flesh-colored skin extensions which are tiny bumps of tissue attached to your body's surface by a stalk.

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Skin tags happen in areas where skin is rubbed against skin or clothing causing friction. The places they develop are usually around the neck, eyelids, underarms etc, mostly in skin folds like the breast or the genital area. The good news is that skin tags are harmless and benign.

What causes Skin Tags?

The exact cause for skin tags is not known but there are various reasons why they may occur more frequently during pregnancy. With pregnancy your weight increases, which in turn can result in an increase in skin folds. Some medical professionals state that the cause of skin tags during pregnancy is due to a change or elevation of hormone levels. The appearance of genital skin tags during pregnancy is quite common. These skin tags are found in the vulva, the fold in the outer layer of the vagina. It is important to maintain a high level of hygiene in that area, as vaginal skin tags are prone to pathogenic microbes. So be sure to clean any fluid discharge to steer clear of infections.

Signs & Symptoms of Skin Tags in Pregnancy

While anyone can develop skin tags, they are especially common in pregnant women. Skin tags don't normally show any symptoms during pregnancy unless the skin is irritated by repeated friction against clothing, jewelry or skin itself. The signs of skin tags are simply the formation of these bumps in prone areas; they vary in size, color, texture and width. Skin tags are not painful but, one should avoid twisting or touching them, as the area could become irritated and inflamed. Skin tags can continue to develop over the course of a pregnancy, until childbirth.

What are the Tests for Skin Tags?

It is always best to consult your doctor to diagnose skin tags during pregnancy. Sometimes other skin aliments like moles, warts, seborrheic keratoses and malignant skin cancers can be mistaken for skin tags. Multiple skin tag development can sometimes, in very rare cases, be an indication of an endocrine syndrome like acromegaly or polycystic ovaries. Your doctor will have specific tests administered after a thorough evaluation. If a skin tag is too close to your eyelid and is causing you discomfort, your physician will advise you to visit an ophthalmologist.

Are Skin Tags Common in Women during Pregnancy?

Pregnancy brings about different body changes in different people. While it is common to develop skin tags during pregnancy, every woman doesn't necessarily get them. It depends on various factors such as your weight and the hormonal changes you undergo when pregnant. Areas of your body that have body folds tend to naturally develop skin tags due to constant friction of skin on skin. Thin women are less likely to develop skin tags as they won't have too many body folds. However, with the changes in hormone levels that occur during pregnancy, they too could develop skin tags.

Are skin tags harmful for the baby?

Skin tags have not been proven to be harmful to the baby. Since these are external, superficial skin growths, it is unlikely that your baby will be affected by them. It is recommended though that you consult your doctor to learn more about the effects of any skin growth on your child.

Treatment for Skin Tags during Pregnancy

Skin tags can be removed during pregnancy as well as after. Doctors however recommend that treatment for skin tags be done only after childbirth. There are various ways to have skin tags removed, which are:

  • Removal with sterile surgical scissors
  • Freezing of the skin tag with liquid nitrogen
  • Cautery (electrical burning)
The treatments are usually not very painful. Small skin tags usually don't require anaesthesia; larger ones might need it before the procedure. These are minor procedures that can usually be done in a doctor's office but sometimes when an excision is performed, bleeding can take place and there is a chance of infection, so your doctor might recommend brief hospitalization. Sometimes skin discoloration could also take place post the removal.
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