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Ask Dr. Schauer ~ Skin Tags

“My husband has a skin tag on his eyelid. It doesn’t bother him … but it bothers me! What causes these to form? Should I take him to the eye doctor to have it removed, or go to our regular doctor? Will its removal affect his eyesight?”

This week, we take a question from a US Country 103.3 listener. Let me preface that since I have not seen the skin tag in person, I can only give generalized answers, but let’s give it a go.

What is a skin tag?

A skin tag is simply a proliferation of skin cells, but it is not to be confused with a cancerous growth. In most cases, they are benign, although they can be numerous and unsightly.

How can skin tags be removed?

For most simple skin tags, they can be removed surgically (snip them off) or they can be removed chemically. In our office, we have had great success with chemical removal for the appropriate type of skin tag. We apply a topical agent to the skin tag in-office, and then it will fall off in a few days. For skin tags that would best benefit from surgical removal, we can refer patients to an ophthalmologist.

Will they hurt my vision?

In most cases, skin tags are going to be located on the eyelid and not the eyeball, so it is rare for them to negatively affect visual acuity.

What if it is not a skin tag?

Of course, I have not seen the skin tag in question to verify that it is indeed a skin tag. It is possible it could be another type of lesion and there is a chance it could be cancerous. Depending on the type of lesion, some are more serious than others. If the lesion changes in size, shape, or color over time, we are more concerned about them. If a lesion looks suspicious, it is often best to have them surgically removed and then sent for a biopsy so the lesion type can be identified and/or confirmed.

As usual – “when in doubt, have it checked out“!



Top image by Pixabay on Pexels (location) used under Creative Commons Zero (CCO) License. Image has been cropped and modified from original. Image rights state commercial use and modifications allowed when image was obtained on 11/14/2017.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.