Skin tags are painless, noncancerous growths on the skin. They’re connected to the skin by a small, thin stalk called a peduncle. Skin tags are common in both men and women, especially after age 50. They can appear anywhere on your body, though they’re commonly found in places where your skin folds such as the:
- area under your breasts
While skin tags require no treatment and may fall away on their own, a doctor may recommend a simple medical procedure to remove any that catch on clothing or cause pain.
People may also want to remove skin tags for cosmetic reasons, especially when they are on visible areas, such as the face.
In this article, you will learn about the safest and most effective ways to remove skin tags at home.
Some techniques for removing skin tags at home are more effective and safe than others. There are also plenty of products on the market for this purpose.
Check with a doctor before trying any of the following:
Skin tag removal bands and patches
A skin tag removal band cuts off the supply of blood to the base of the skin tag. Without a supply of blood, the cells die, and the tag falls away. This process is known as ligation.
Removal patches contain medications. If a person leaves a patch on a tag for several days or weeks, the tag may come off.
However, Dr. Mokaya strongly recommends having skin tags removed in a medical setting.
Avoid products that contain salicylic acid and tea tree oil because these ingredients can irritate the skin or cause contact dermatitis.
According to the labeling on some of these products, the skin tag should fall off within 2–3 weeks.
In a clinical setting, healthcare professionals use liquid nitrogen to destroy unwanted skin tissue. This is known as cryotherapy.
Benign lesions such as skin tags require temperatures of −4°F to −58°F.
Dr. Mokaya recommends doing research and selecting the over-the-counter kit that can reach the lowest temperature when used appropriately.
As always, follow the instructions. People may need to apply the product several times before the growth falls away.
When using home freezing kits, avoid letting the spray touch the surrounding skin. Applying petroleum jelly to the area around the tag beforehand can help protect the skin.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that may help treat several skin conditions. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it may help get rid of skin tags.
People who try it apply a few drops of the oil to a cotton ball, which they affix to the skin tag with a bandage. They leave the cotton ball on the skin tag for 10 minutes, three times a day. It may take several days or weeks for the tag to fall off.
However, a person should exercise caution, as tea tree oil can irritate sensitive skin. Do not use this oil on tags in the eye area.
Apple cider vinegar
Little research has looked into whether apple cider vinegar can remove skin tags.
People who try this often soak a cotton ball in the vinegar and affix it to the tag with a bandage for 10 minutes, two or three times a day, until the tag falls away.
However, watch for skin irritation and stop using it if any signs of a reaction occur. Apple cider vinegar is very acidic and can cause chemical burns. Do not use it near the eyes.
Anecdotal reports suggest that people can use liquid iodine to remove skin tags. There is little scientific evidence of this, however.
Anyone who wants to try should first protect the skin surrounding the tag by applying petroleum jelly or coconut oil to it. Next, soak a Q-tip in iodine and spread the liquid across the tag. Cover the area with a bandage until the iodine has dried.
Repeat this treatment twice a day until the tag drops off.
Cutting or clipping
It can be tempting to cut or clip off a skin tag with a sharp blade, nail clippers, or scissors. Only do this with the approval of a healthcare professional, and cleanse the skin and the tool thoroughly to prevent infection.
While this provides the immediate gratification of removal, note that it is painful. People who use blood thinners or have bleeding disorders should avoid this method.
Also, do not cut or clip off medium or large tags — doing so can cause bleeding. Tags usually measure anywhere from a few millimeters to 2 inches in width.
In addition, do not try this method on tags around the eyes or genitals.
The American Academy of Dermatology caution that trying to remove a mole or skin tag at home can cause a deep-seated infection. Also, it can be easy to inadvertently nick a blood vessel or vein, leading to significant bleeding.