As your belly pops out, you may notice extra pieces of skin pop up in other places. Skin tags are another one of those rarely talked about side effects some women experience during pregnancy.
While you may be thrown for a loop if a skin tag (or several) forms during pregnancy, try not to worry. For one, you’re far from alone. About 50 to 60 percent of adults develop a skin tag during their lifetimes. And while these nubby little pieces of flesh may look a bit funny, they’re completely harmless.
What are pregnancy skin tags?
A skin tag is a small growth of tissue that sticks out beyond the surface of the skin. Skin tags are almost always benign. They don’t get bigger or change over time.
Luckily, skin tags are also usually painless unless clothing or jewelry rubs against the skin tag and causes it to become twisted, irritated or inflamed.
What causes skin tags during pregnancy?
Skin tags are caused by hyperactive growth of your outer layer of skin. They’re most prevalent in older people and expectant mothers, likely spurred on by hormonal changes (and you’ve got plenty of those going on right now).
Pregnancy weight gain is another possible cause. And people with a family history of skin tags are more likely to develop them, too.
What do skin tags look like?
A skin tag is a flesh-colored (or slightly darker) piece of skin. It may hang off a short, thin stalk connected to the surface of the skin. Most skin tags are small, between 1 and 5 millimeters in size.
These excess skin growths usually appear on skin surfaces that are hot and moist, and often places where there’s friction from the skin rubbing against itself or on clothing. So, they may sprout in the folds of your neck, armpits, torso, inner thighs, beneath your breasts or on your genitals. If you touch the skin tag, it will be soft and easy to move back and forth.
Will skin tags that developed during pregnancy go away?
Many skin tags will shrink and may go away on their own after you give birth. If they don’t go away completely, they should at least become smaller and easier to remove (should you choose to do so).
Can you prevent skin tags during pregnancy?
Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to prevent skin tags. However, if they bother you, they’re generally very easy for your doctor to remove.
While it’s possible to safely get rid of skin tags during pregnancy, experts suggest waiting until after you’re finished breastfeeding, since the skin tags may go away on their own.
If they’re still hanging around for a while after your pregnancy, or they’re irritated, a dermatologist can easily remove them. Methods include freezing them with liquid nitrogen, cauterizing them or cutting them off with scissors. (It takes only a few seconds, really!)
Just because it’s simple for your dermatologist to remove a skin tag does not mean you should give it a try yourself. Never attempt to cut off a skin tag on your own — doing so can lead to excessive bleeding or infection.
And never use DIY products that contain chemicals that are meant to burn off skin tags. There’s no way to confirm the ingredients in these products. Your safest option is to leave skin tag removal up to your doctor.
Once the skin tag is removed, it usually won’t grow again in that same spot. However, new skin tags could still pop up on other areas of the body.
When to talk to your doctor about skin tags
If you want to have a skin tag removed, discuss it with your doctor. And definitely schedule an appointment with a dermatologist if a skin tag becomes painful, changes colors or is a different color than the surrounding skin, has raw or bleeding areas, or if a growth on your skin is firm and you can’t wiggle it easily.