Striving for perfect skin? Doing all you can to get a glowing complexion by eating healthy, working out, and drinking lots of water? While those things will undoubtedly help your skin look its best, they won't clear up skin tags. If you want them to go away, you need to know how to get rid of skin tags.
Getting rid of your skin tags may not be as hard as you think. You might not even need help from a doctor, and can take care of them quickly and easily in your own home.
READ ON TO DISCOVER:
What are Skin Tags?
Skin tags are extremely common small tissue growths on the skin's surface. Up to half of all people may get one at more at some point in their lifetime. Most often, skin tags are harmless, painless, and don't grow or change. While you can find them all over your body, skin tags often form on areas of the body subject to rubbing. You are most likely to find them on the neck, armpits, trunk and in body folds. (1)
Skin tags themselves have a core of fibers and ducts, nerve cells, fat cells and a layer of skin surrounding it. They may have a stalk and generally look like a small piece of hanging skin. Skin tags may have a smooth surface or an irregular surface. They are often raised and either slightly brown or flesh colored. They generally start quite small and flat, like the bump on a pinhead. Sizes vary, and they can grow up to 5 cm in size. (2)
While many people, it is possible to have had one and not have known. In some cases, the skin tag can rub and fall off painlessly. In most cases, however, they do not fall off.
So if skin tags are generally harmless, why get rid of them?
Most people choose to ignore them for cosmetic reasons, especially skin tags that surface on the neck, eyelid, or face. In rare cases, a skin tag can get irritated and infected. In that case, removing the skin tag is the best course of action to prevent infection from reoccurring.
Skin Tag Causes
Skin tags are thought to be caused by collagen and blood vessels that bunch together and get caught inside thicker skin. As skin tags more commonly occur in skin creases or fold, it is believed they are mainly caused by skin rubbing against skin. However no one knows for sure. Skin tags affect all people of any gender. However some people are at a higher risk for developing skin tags. You may be more likely to develop skin tags if any of the following applies to you:
- Genetics. If your relatives have a lot of skin tags, you likely have inherited that genetic quality as well.
- Weight. If you are overweight or obese, you have more skin folds and creases. Creases and folds are prime locations for skin tag development.
- Pregnancy. Skin tags are yet another pleasant side effect of pregnancy thanks to hormones and weight gain. Hormones help speed up skin tag formation while weight gain, fluid retention, and swelling give you more areas that rub together and allow skin tags to form.
- Diabetes. Certain types of diabetes associated with hyperinsulinemia, a condition where you have abnormally high amounts of insulin in your blood, makes you more prone to skin tags.
- HPV. Some strains of the human papilloma virus may cause skin tags.
- Imbalanced hormones. When estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate it puts you more at risk for skin tags.
4 Methods to Remove Skin Tags at Home
So you've decided that your skin tag is bothering you. As long as the tag is not infected or near a sensitive area, you can treat it yourself at home. Try the following three ways to remove your skin tags in the comfort and convenience of your own home. The fourth method is not recommended for home use, though many still attempt to try it despite its dangers.
- Tie the skin tag off
- Use Wart Remover
- Try Essential Oils
- Scratch the tag off
Let's take a look at each of these methods in depth.
Tying the Skin Tag Off
Tying skin tags off is a popular method to remove skin tags in a medical office. Until recently there weren't many options available to do this easily and safely at home. Now you can find devices that do this for you that minimize the risk of infection. A popular device that does this for you is the Tagband Device. Check out a step by step video on how to use it here.
Before these devices were available, people used dental floss or sewing thread to remove their skin tags. However, both of these methods do leave the area prone to infection. Plus because sewing thread is so sharp it can leave the area more irritated and sore. The irritation may up the risk of infection.
How It Works
Let's take a look at how to remove skin tags by tying them off.
- Proper Diagnosis. Always make sure you check with a doctor or dermatologist to make sure that the growth is a skin tag and not a wart or something else that may be more serious.
- Clean the Area. Use soap and water on the area. Then pat it dry and dab on rubbing alcohol to sterilize it.
- Find the Stalk. Make sure you are clear on what area to tie off.
- Wrap Dental Floss Around the Base of the Stalk. Tie it securely so it stops blood flow, but not so tight that it cuts into your skin.
- Sterilize the Area Daily. Keep the area clean and protect it with a bandage. Check the area daily and apply alcohol or antibiotic cream to keep it from getting infected.
- Wait about a Week. The skin tag should fall off during this time.
Pros of Tying a Skin Tag Off
- You can do it a home.
- You only need dental floss, rubbing alcohol, and bandages.
- It's fairly easy.
- It should be almost painless.
Cons of Tying a Skin Tag Off
- It can cause irritation.
- You shouldn't do it on sensitive areas like your face or near your groin.
- You may get an infection.
Use Wart Remover
Some wart removers also work on skin tags. Those that do, often will get rid of them with just one use. Though not a scientifically proven skin tag remover, most wart removers contain salicylic acid or other ingredients. Anecdotal evidence supports salicylic acid as an effective skin tag remover. (3)
Other wart removers contain liquid nitrogen. This is the same substance that doctors use to freeze of skin tags. If you use a product with nitrogen in it, the tag will eventually change colors and fall off.
Some wart removers actually market themselves as skin tag removers. Those generally contain a whole kit, complete with cream and applicator. Check out Dr. Scholl's Skin Tag Remover or Compound W.
How It Works
- Proper Diagnosis. Be sure the area you are treating is a skin tag.
- Clean the Area. Use soap and water then pat dry.
- Apply the Cream. Make sure you follow instructions on the package. Most recommend leaving the cream on for around 20 minutes.
- Rinse and Pat Dry. Rinse the area with water to thoroughly remove the cream. Pat dry gently.
- Keep the Area Clean and Protected. A small scab will form post treatment. Keep the scab clean and protected until it falls off about 3 weeks later.
Pros of Wart Remover to Remove Skin Tags
- It's fairly inexpensive.
- It's quick and easy.
- One treatment may take care of them.
Cons of Wart Remover to Remove Skin Tags
- It may sting while you are using the treatment.
- Redness may occur afterwards.
- All wart removers are formulated differently so you may not find one that works for you right away.
Try Essential Oils to Remove Skin Tags
Some essential oils are quite useful in treating skin issues, including skin tags. Well known for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties, tea tree oil is particularly beneficial for skin issues including skin tags. Tea tree oil comes from the Southeast Australian coast. The oil has many health and beauty benefits including skin benefits, treating fungal infections, and clearing coughs and congestion. (4)
Tea tree oil is available for sale in many big box stores, drug stores, and health food stores. You can also purchase it online. When buying tea tree oil, look for an organic and 100 % pure oil.
It will take some time to remove the skin tags completely with tea tree oil. How much time depends on the frequency of using tea oil on skin tags and the size of the skin tag. For most people it will take about 2 weeks before noticing an improvement.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil to Remove Skin Tags
There are several methods to try when using tea tree oil to remove skin tags. Some of them involve mixing tea tree oil with other natural powerhouses like apple cider vinegar.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil Alone to Remove Skin Tags
- Thoroughly clean the skin tag and area surrounding it.
- Soak a cotton ball and water, squeezing to wring out excess water. Add 3 drops of tea tree oil.
- Apply to affected skin by massaging the cotton gently over the area for 5 minutes.
- Rinse gently with water and pat dry.
- Repeat this process 3 times a day until the tag falls off.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil with Apple Cider Vinegar to Remove Skin Tags
- In a small bow mix together 4 drops of high quality apple cider vinegar, 5 drops of fresh lemon juice and 3 drops of tea tree oil. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Dip a cotton ball in this mix then place on the skin tag.
- Hold the cotton ball on to the skin tag for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Rinse and pat dry.
- Repeat this twice a day for about 10 days or until the tag falls off.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil with Carrier Oils to Remove Skin Tags
- Mix 3 drops of tea tree oil with any 1 tsp of any carrier oil like olive oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil.
- Dip a cotton ball into the mixture and apply to the affected area by massaging it gently for several minutes.
- Rinse and pat dry.
- Repeat this process until the skin tag falls off.
Pros of Using Tea Tree Oil to Remove Skin Tags
- Tea tree oil is generally safe to use. Even pregnant women and the elderly can use it, as long as a doctor okays it first.
- It's all natural.
- The process is virtually pain free.
Cons of Using Tea Tree Oil to Remove Skin Tags
- It takes longer to work than other methods.
- It's somewhat time consuming because you have to hold the oil onto the area for a few minutes during each application and you should apply the oil several times per day.
- It may not work on all skin tags.
- Redness, dryness, and irritation may occur if you have sensitive skin.
Scratch the Skin Tag Off
This method may be the most effective method to remove skin tags, but you should not do this method at home. Cutting or scratching the skin tag off yourself is dangerous. It leaves you susceptible to infections and if done incorrectly can cause excessive bleeding. If you are interested in having a skin tag cut off, see a doctor to do the procedure safely.
Other Methods to Remove Skin Tags
Here are a few additional methods to get rid of skin tags:
While the 4 methods listed above are the most tried and true methods to remove skin tags, you can check out these other ideas on how to remove skin tags below.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and hold it onto the tag. Repeat daily for 1 month.
- Castor Oil and Baking Soda – Mix castor oil and baking soda together until it forms a thick paste. Apple to the skin tag before bed and cover it. Allow the mix to stay on overnight. Wash off and repeat until the tag falls off.
- Onion Juice – Extract the juice from an onion by slicing it and salting it. Put it in a bowl and let sit overnight. Dab the juice on your skin tag, repeating until the tag falls off.
- Pineapple Juice – Soak a cotton ball in pineapple juice and hold it on the tag for a few minutes several times a day until the tag falls off.
- Nail Polish – Apply clear nail polish to the skin tag and let it dry. Repeat several times until the tag falls off.
- Garlic – Peel a clove of garlic and rub it directly on the skin tag. Repeat several times a day until the tag is gone.
- Lemon Juice – Just like pineapple juice, the citric acid helps break up the skin tag. Soak a cotton ball in lemon juice and rub on the tag several times a day until the tag falls off.
- Duct Tape – Cover the tag with duct tape and keep on until the skin tag is removed in about 10-12 days.
- Aloe Vera – Rub a bit of aloe vera on the skin tag until the skin tag goes away.
- Banana Peel – Cut a small piece of banana peel and apply the inside of the peel to the tag. Hold it on and wrap firmly on the area with the tag. Sleep with the peel on your skin tag. Repeat this nightly until the tag goes away.
- Vegetable Juice – Add a mashed clove of garlic to a tomato based vegetable juice. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture and apply it to the skin tag. Repeat as needed.
- Vitamin E – Dab vitamin E directly on the skin tag several times a day until the tag is gone.
- Fenugreek – Soak some Fenugreek seeds in water overnight. Dab a little of the water on the tag and drink the rest. Repeat until the tag goes away.
- Ginger – Rub raw ginger on the skin tag until the tag falls off.
- Dandelion Root – Rubbing dandelion root over a skin tag can speed up the removal process and prime the area before trying to scrape it off.
- Aspirin – Dissolve an aspirin in a little water. Apply the solution on the skin tag to help fade the tag away.
- Potato – Place a thin slice of potato on the skin tag and affix it to the skin with a bandage. Sleep with the potato on your skin. Repeat nightly until the tag goes away.
When to See a Doctor to Remove Skin Tags
Though many of the home remedies work wonders to remove skin tags, sometimes you should seek a doctor's care to safely remove skin tags. You should visit your dermatologist for a skin tag if:
- The skin tag is new. You should always have a doctor check any new growth on your skin prior to treating it at home. If you don't you may be inappropriately treating something more serious like skin cancer at home without knowing it.
- The skin tag is sore or red. These may indicate the skin tag is infected. Picking at a skin tag makes it susceptible to germs and bacteria that can cause infection. If the skin tag shows signs of infection including pain, swelling, redness, or if it is warm or hot to the touch, see a doctor as soon as possible.
- At home removal methods did not work. Some skin tags may be particularly stubborn to remove at home. If you have tried at home removal methods and the skin tag is still there, see a doctor to remove it in office.
- The skin tag is in a sensitive location. Skin tags can grow on very sensitive areas like near the groin and on the eyelids. If you have a skin tag in either of those places, don't mess with it yourself. Those areas are very delicate and need a doctor's attention for removal.
- The skin tag is very large. Removing a large skin tag may cause excess bleeding.
- You have certain medical conditions. Some people with bleeding disorders and other medical conditions should never try to remove a skin tags at home. Doing so could cause serious blood loss. If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking an anticoagulant, see a doctor to treat your skin tags.
What to Expect When a Doctor Removes a Skin Tag
If you find yourself in one of the situations mentioned above where you need a doctor to remove a skin tag, you may be a little nervous about the procedure. Knowing what to expect during your skin tag removal appointment can ease your fears and calm your nerves.
Removing skin tags can be done easily in a dermatologist's office. Most of the time, the appointment begins with the dermatologist inspecting the skin tag to be sure that it is only a benign skin tag. Likely, the dermatologist is also ruling out any signs of infection as well. After that the dermatologist will probably clean the area and use one of the following procedures to remove your skin tags:
- Cutting the skin tag off. Most doctors prefer to remove a skin tag by cutting it off quickly in office. The procedure will begin with cleaning the area with an antiseptic solution. Depending on the size and location of the skin tag, the doctor may rub a numbing solution on your skin. Then, the doctor will use a very sharp tool to simply slice the tag away. The area will be cleaned again and a bandage will be applied. You can expect to feel very little pain during the procedure. Most only feel a pinprick sensation. Occasionally. tag removal may require the doctor to stitch the resulting wound. (5)
- Freezing the skin tag. Sometimes, a dermatologist will choose to remove a skin tag through freezing it off with super cold liquid nitrogen. In this method, the dermatologist cleans the area first and applies numbing cream. Then the dermatologist will then swab or spray a small amount of liquid nitrogen on the area. The area may tingle or burn slightly. The skin tag should fall off in 10 to 14 days. (6)
- Burning the skin tag. If cutting or freezing the tag off isn't an option, the dermatologist may burn the skin tag off. The skin tag and surrounding area will be cleaned. The doctor then uses a small piece of wire that is heated with an electrical current to burn the stalk of the tag. The heat will help prevent the skin tag from bleeding. The tag should fall off following the procedure.
Most of the time, skin tag removal causes very little bleeding. However if you do bleed following a skin tag removal procedure the doctor may apply a cream to help stop the bleeding prior to covering the area.
Keep in mind, though skin tags can be annoying and unsightly, most of the time they are not considered a medical issue, just a cosmetic one. That said, if you choose to have a doctor remove your skin tag, check with your insurance company first. Many will not cover cosmetic skin tag removal.
Skin Tag Removal FAQs
The Bottom Line on Skin Tag Removal
Just because you have skin tags doesn't mean you have to live with them for the rest of your life. There are many options to remove skin tags quickly and easily. Some skin tags can even be removed in the comfort and convenience of your own home. To do so, make sure you follow every precaution to avoid infection after removing the tag.
If you are planning to remove your skin tags yourself, it's crucial to have a doctor properly diagnosis the tag prior to removal. You don't want to self treat a potentially more serious condition like skin cancer.
If home removal fails or your skin tag is in a sensitive area or infected or bleeding, you should see a dermatologist to remove the tag. Dermatologists can remove skin tags quickly with simple in office procedures.
Most often skin tag removal is not a big deal. It's a fairly pain free process. After getting your skin tags removed, you may feel a renewed sense of confidence in your appearance that can affect your happiness and outlook on life.