Photos courtesy of Tonya Abari

I Got Skin Tags During Pregnancy, & Tried DIY Removal

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The number of changes the pregnant body experiences is mind blowing. Each trimester is accompanied by a plethora of transitions–some tolerable and others not-so-lovable. I thought my pregnancy was going to be smooth sailing. Butterflies and doves. Not quite. I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum in the second trimester and yet after puking every single day during the entire duration of my pregnancy, I still managed to gain over 100 pounds. The heck? What’s this vertical black stripe running up and down the front of my belly? Linea nigra — what? What in the entire hell was all of this? Where’s my thick and luscious hair? Why isn’t my skin glowing like a morning ray of sunshine? Why do I look like someone stroked the back of my neck with a can of tar? And don’t get me started on the skin tags during pregnancy. Skin tags here. Skin tags there. Skin tags everywhere!

Medically harmless, skin tags are little benign, fleshy growths that can pop up all over the body. Skin tags may occur under the eyelids, armpits, neck, or under the breasts — anywhere near flaps of skin. The average adult has at least one, but skin tags are known to pop up with increased age and/or weight gain. They also can be hereditary, specifically occurring in those with darker complexions. While I haven’t seen anyone in my immediate family with skin tags, I can picture a distant, wise, old auntie saying, “Skin tags aren’t anything to worry about, baby. It’s just another gift that makes you beautiful.”

At first, I really didn’t care about the vanity of the skin tags. I couldn’t worry because towards the end of the pregnancy, I had other things were consuming me — you know, like having the baby! In fact, I ended up being wrapped up with all things baby until our daughter starting walking. And then, I noticed that I was fiddling with these flappy things under the my right eyelid. Were these skin tags? After getting them checked by a physician, indeed they were. Harmless, nonetheless, but I was not a fan of these under-the-eyelid boogers. I kept looking in the mirror, not liking the new additions to my face.

I didn’t know what to do with these new skin tags, but I knew I wanted to get rid of them myself.

A self-proclaimed DIY’er, I knew there had to be a way to remove these safely without booking an appointment with a dermatologist. I’ve never been to a dermatologist. My lifelong face routine consisted of splashing water on my face and applying shea butter lip balm. An occasional facial scrub or masque when I felt fancy. I didn’t know what to do with these new skin tags, but I knew I wanted to get rid of them myself. Therefore, I did what any other millennial mom-slash-wannabe-beauty-enthusiast would do. I Googled and YouTubed the crap out of “how to remove skin tags naturally.” Please note: doctors do not advise self-removal of skin tags due to the risk of infection, per the Mayo Clinic.

The pen and paraphernalia. Photo courtesy of Tonya Abari

The first video I came across provided a simple solution, but it looked too painful. There was no way I was going to wrap dental floss around the skin tag and yank until they fell off — there was blood involved. I was the kid who wanted to keep my baby teeth in forever because I feared having them pulled out. I’ll never forget my brother’s attempt at helping me to remove my tooth. The string, tied to my tooth and to the door, didn’t budge. He kept slamming the door and my tooth just wiggled. I don’t remember the pain, but I remember feeling absolutely mortified.

Next, I saw an experiment with apple cider vinegar, essential oils, and Band-aids. I swabbed apple cider vinegar, tea tree, and oregano oil onto the skin tags and covered them nightly with a Band-aid for well over a month. The skin tags shriveled up, but they were still hanging on for dear life. I guess I needed to bring in the big dogs to get this job done. I’d seen a few people rave about a nifty little contraption — a skin tag and mole removal pen. Apparently, this was the same tool that dermatologists use, minus to the overpriced bill at the end of removal.

Every time I opened the oven or went out into warm air, I felt a sting. And all of this taught me a valuable lesson.

The particular skin tag removal thing-a-majig that I ordered didn’t come with any directions. Not a single one. So I had to go back to what got me into this in the first place: YouTube. No biggie. I’m quite the visual learner. I watched carefully, step-by-step to see what users were doing to remove the skin tags. “I can do this,” I said again to myself and I edged the slender needle into place. One particular user cautioned the use of numbing cream, but didn’t make it seem like a big deal if you didn’t have any. And I didn’t have any. I used a pair of tweezers to pull the skin tag into the air while I slid the needle across the bottom of the flesh. My skin smelled of charcoal and I felt a burning sensation at the base of the experimental skin tag. After repositioning the pen, the stubborn little critter still wouldn’t fall off (like I’d seen in the videos).

For about a month after attempting to rid myself of the skin tags, I had a burning sensation on the corner of my eyelid. Every time I opened the oven or went out into warm air, I felt a sting. And all of this taught me a valuable lesson. Quite a few, actually. The first is not to think that every beauty experiment I find online will work for me. The skin tag removal pen is a great idea — in theory — but for some reason, it didn’t slice my skin tags off as effortlessly as many of the users online. And that’s okay.

Skin tags don’t make me any less attractive. I understand that my skin tags are just an extension of the wonderful life that I brought into this world. They are a testimony of all the amazing things a pregnant woman’s body can do. I can’t say that I won’t try again to remove the skin tags in the future, but for now I choose to love myself. Every part. Even the annoying little skin tags.