Women experience many problems during pregnancy that make their life a lot harder. Those complications can include weight gain, aches, high blood pressure, infections and gestational diabetes just to name a few (resource). Getting prenatal care can help decrease the chance of issues during pregnancy, but in the long run all the complications can’t be avoided. Another complication is skin tags during pregnancy. While its not as serious as most of the other complications, skin tags are not desired by anyone.
Why do women get skin tags during pregnancy? The main reason women may get skin tags during pregnancy is because of hormone changes. Pregnancy hormones like estrogen and leptin have been associated with skin tags in studies. Another reason is weight gain causing more skin friction from skin folds and tight clothing.
This article will tell you more in detail why this happens, when to expect them during your pregnancy and when they may disappear. In addition, if they’re harmful to you or your baby, some things you can do that may help prevent them and how to get rid of them.
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Why Women Get Skin Tags During Pregnancy
The one good thing about skin tags during pregnancy is they are unharmful to you or your baby. Skin tags are not cancerous or contagious. They are growths that develops and hangs from your skin connected by a stalk. Typically, they appear in the armpits, neck, back, thighs and groin area but can be found anywhere. Unless they become irritated by friction, they are not a medical concern. The following are reasons why you may get them during pregnancy.
Hormones: In case you didn’t know, pregnancy is full of hormonal changes;) The hormone leptin increases during pregnancy particularly in the second trimester (resource). There are numerous studies showing a strong association between leptin and skin tags. One recent study compared a group of people with 3 or more skin tags to a group with no skin tags. They found a connection between serum leptin levels and the presence of skin tags (resource). In a smaller study of 20 people with skin tags, showed leptin may be implicated in the development of skin tags (resource). Another study took 45 skin biopsies from 15 patients with skin tags. Their results showed an increased level of leptin in the skin tags compared to the normal skin (resource).
Another hormone produced more when women are pregnant is estrogen. Estrogen levels increase steadily during pregnancy and reach their peak in the third trimester. A research study published in 2010, compared a group with skin tags and another without. They found a possible association between skin tags and estrogen (resource).
Weight Gain: A common cause of skin tags during pregnancy is weight gain. Skin tags are known to form from skin friction. This can be from skin rubbing on other skin or from tight clothing rubbing excessively on skin. The extra weight gain during pregnancy can cause more skin folds than normal. In addition, tighter clothing, especially bra straps, can cause more friction on the skin than normal resulting in skin tags.
Ways To Prevent Skin Tags During Pregnancy
There are certain things you can do which may help put the odds in your favor for preventing skin tags or getting as much of them. Disclaimer: Always follow your doctor’s advice and recommendations for anything you do during pregnancy, including diet, exercise or anything skin tag related. With your doctor’s permission, follow these tips:
Avoid Skin Friction: Although weight gain can come fast, if you’re able to wear the proper size clothes it will reduce the amount of friction against your skin. This is especially true around the bra straps where many skin tags are formed. Wear loose clothing around your thighs, chest and neck areas. In addition, if any of your jewelry fits tighter than before, it can cause excess friction you want to avoid.
Excess Weight Gain: Try staying within your weight gain limits set by your doctor. By following the proper diet outlined for you can help prevent extra fat folds in your skin and your clothing from getting too tight. Follow any physical activity allowed by your doctor that can help keep your weight gain at an acceptable level. This can help reduce the amount of friction against your skin and may also improve your insulin resistance which is another cause of skin tags.
Stay Dry: By keeping your skin fold areas as dry as possible can help reduce skin friction. Dry yourself completely after a shower and use baby powder to help lessen skin on skin rubbing.
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How To Remove Skin Tags After Pregnancy
As noted above always follow your doctor’s advice. It’s a good chance they will want you to wait until your pregnancy is over before removing any skin tags. After pregnancy, a dermatologist will recommend one of the common removal methods listed below. The location, size and amount of skin tags will determine which method the doctor chooses.
Cryotherapy: This skin tag removal method involves using liquid nitrogen to freeze your skin tag. The extreme cold will kill your skin tag cells causing them to die and fall off in about a week.
Cauterization: A doctor will use a cautery tool to burn off your skin tag. The doctor will pull your skin tag away from the base off your skin and burn through the stalk of your skin tag where it attaches to your skin.
Surgically Removing The Skin Tag: The doctor will first numb your skin tag with an injection. Next, they will use a sterile scalpel or surgical scissors and cut off your skin tag. Depending on the size of the skin tag and cut, it may require a stitch to help it heal and stop the bleeding.
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