How to Remove Skin Tags - The Dermatology Review

How to Remove Skin Tags

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07.26.19 AD DISCLOSURE

Are you trying to figure out how to remove skin tags? If so, you probably know how annoying skin tags can be. They rub against clothing and can be embarrassing if they are visible. Not to mention they seem impossible to get rid of! The good news is that skin tags do not cause a risk to your health. But what if you just want to remove skin tags for cosmetic reasons? Fortunately, there are several effective treatment options, some that can be done from home and others that require a visit to your dermatologist’s office. Read on to learn exactly how to remove skin tags.

What are skin tags?

Before we get into how to remove skin tags, you may be wondering: what are skin tags? A skin tag, also known as an acrochordon, is a small piece of soft, hanging skin that is painless and benign. Skin tags consist of a core of fibers and ducts, blood vessels, nerve cells, fat cells, and a covering or epidermis. They are connected to the skin by a small, thin stalk called a peduncle. They can appear anywhere on the body, but they are most commonly found where skin rubs against other skin or clothing. Common places to find skin tags are the eyelids, neck, armpits, upper chest, under the breasts, and groin. Skin tags are usually flesh-colored, but can also be brown. Both men and women get skin tags, especially after age 50. Even though skin tags are not dangerous, they can become irritated and bothersome by getting caught on clothing and jewelry.

Skin tag vs. mole

Skin tags and moles look pretty similar, however, there are several differences between these skin conditions. Moles are skin growths made up of melanocytes (cells that produce color). A mole can appear anywhere on the skin, alone or in groups. Unlike skin tags which hang from the skin due to the peduncle, moles are usually flat or only slightly raised. Most people get a few moles during their first 20 years of life. They are usually brown or black in color. Because of their pigment, they have the rare potential to change from a regular mole into skin cancer. In contrast, skin tags are benign.

What causes skin tags?

So what causes skin tags? Unfortunately, the exact cause of skin tags is unclear. However, there are many factors that are thought to contribute to the formation of skin tags:

  • Genetics
  • Friction due to skin folds
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Insulin resistance
  • Pregnancy hormones
  • Hormone imbalance

Even though it’s unclear what exactly causes skin tags, there are several things you can do to get rid of skin tags. Next we will discuss how to remove skin tags, including treatment options at a dermatologist’s office and at home.

How to remove skin tags on face, neck, and body

One way to remove skin tags is to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist, who may use one of the following procedures to remove a skin tag:

  • Excision: The skin tag is cut out with a scalpel or snipped off with sterile scissors
  • Ligation: The blood supply to the skin tag is closed off
  • Cauterization: The skin tag is burned off using electrolysis
  • Cryosurgery: A probe containing liquid nitrogen is used for freezing skin tags off

Cryosurgery is typically the standard of care for small skin tags. This procedure targets only the skin tag, so there is minimal damage to the surrounding tissue. However, there can be side effects after cryosurgery, including redness, swelling, pain, and blisters. Healing time for skin tags on face and neck procedures is two to six weeks, and may be longer for other parts of the body. Another disadvantage of cryosurgery is that the skin tag may not fall off and further treatment may be needed. Excision or surgery is usually required for a large skin tag. Surgical removal has the advantage of removing the skin tag completely, but there is a risk of minor bleeding, infection, and scarring.

How to remove skin tags on eyelid

Skin tags on eyelids can be treated by a dermatologist or an ophthalmologist, and removal options include cryotherapy, snip excisions, electrosurgery, and Cryo Tweezers. Using Cryo Tweezers to remove skin tags on eyelids is considered to be the safest method. Cryo Tweezers can apply cold to the skin tags without risking damage to the eye. The Cryo Tweezers are made cold by dipping them into liquid nitrogen. Then, each skin tag is grasped while gently pulling it away, and held between the 2 ends of the tweezer until it turns white. This method is very safe and causes very little discomfort to the patient.

How to remove skin tags at home

If you’d prefer not to make a trip to the dermatologist’s office, you’re probably wondering how to remove skin tags at home. There are several over-the-counter (OTC) solutions and creams specifically formulated to remove skin tags. Plus, if you want to know how to remove skin tags naturally, there is anecdotal evidence that apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil may be effective for skin tag removal.

Freezing skin tags
Since skin tag removal is typically not covered by insurance and cryotherapy can be expensive, you may want to consider freezing skin tags with OTC solutions. These medications are similar to those used for wart removal. The skin tag removal kit uses dimethyl ether and propane instead of liquid nitrogen (which is used by dermatologist for cryotherapy). When these two ingredients come in contact with your skin, they cause instant freezing. After being frozen, the cells will die and the skin tag will fall off.

Skin tag removal cream
A skin tag removal cream will usually contain essential oils, botanical extracts, and homeopathic remedies that are claimed to help get rid of skin tags. Examples of common ingredients used in skin tag removal creams include Thuja occidentalis, nitricum acidum, and Calcarea carbonica. However, there’s no scientific evidence that the ingredients in skin tag removal creams are effective for getting rid of skin tags.

Skin tag patch
A skin tag patch contains similar ingredients as a skin tag removal cream. Placing the patch on the skin tag is said to dry it out, causing it to fall away. Similar to skin tag removal creams, there is no research supporting the use of these ingredients for skin tags.

Apple cider vinegar for skin tags
If you want to get rid of skin tags naturally, you may want to consider trying apple cider vinegar. It seems as though apple cider vinegar is claimed to help with nearly all skin conditions, and skin tags are no exception. Using apple cider vinegar for skin tags is said to make the skin tag fall off because the acidity of the vinegar kills the skin cells of the peduncle.

Tea tree oil for skin tags
Another method to get rid of skin tags naturally is tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is an essential oil obtained from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant that has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. There is only anecdotal evidence that suggests using tea tree oil for skin tags is effective.

Cutting off skin tags
Are you wondering how to cut off a skin tag at home? If so, it’s important to keep in mind that cutting off a skin tag at home is not recommended due to a risk of bleeding and possible infection. Moreover, without a professional, you may leave part of the skin tag behind when you cut it off. This can prevent it from healing properly, leaving the area sore, red, inflamed bump or even an infected skin tag. Attempting to cut off a skin tag at home can lead to problems, and you may end up having to go to the dermatologist anyway.

Best skin tag removal

As you can see, there are quite a few different ways to remove skin tags. So what is the best skin tag removal method? The safest and most effective skin tag removal method is to visit a dermatologist or an ophthalmologist (for a skin tag on eyelid). These trained medical professionals will be able to determine the best skin tag removal method for your unique needs. However, since skin tag removal is usually not covered by insurance, going to the doctor may be too expensive for some people. Thus, the best skin tag removal method you can do at home is an OTC skin tag removal kit. There are usually no side effects with these kits, however, it may take several attempts to freeze the skin tag off.

References: Healthline.com “How Are Skin Tags Removed? Plus Causes, Diagnosis, and More”, MedicalNewsToday.com “All you need to know about skin tags” July 2017, ASDS.net “Cryosurgery for Skin Growths”, J Fam Pract. 2017 December;66(12)

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