Skin tags are soft, noncancerous growths that usually form within the skin folds of the neck, armpits, breasts, groin area, and eyelids. These growths are loose collagen fibers that become lodged inside thicker areas of the skin. It’s unclear exactly what causes skin tags, but they may develop from friction or skin rubbing against skin. Skin tags are also extremely common, affecting almost half of the population, Kemunto Mokaya, MD, tells Honayst. They’re also more common among older adults, people with overweight, and people with diabetes, she says. These skin lesions are usually harmless, but they can be painful when snagged by jewelry or clothing. If these growths are bothersome, relief is available. Here’s a look at a few home remedies, over-the-counter products, and surgical options to get rid of skin tags.
Home remedies for skin tags
Skin tags don’t usually require treatment or a visit to the doctor. If you choose to remove a tag, it may be possible to do so with products already in your medicine cabinet or kitchen. Most at-home remedies involve drying out the skin tag until it shrinks in size and falls off.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil, which has antiviral and antifungal properties, is safe to use on the skin.
First, wash the affected area. Then, using a Q-tip or cotton swab, gently massage the oil over the skin tag. Place a bandage over the area overnight.
Repeat this treatment for several nights until the tag dries out and falls off.
Don’t toss away your old banana peels, especially if you have a skin tag. The peel of a banana can also help dry out a skin tag. Place a piece of banana peel over the tag and cover it with a bandage. Do this nightly until the tag falls off.
Apple cider vinegar
Soak a cotton swab in apple cider vinegar, and then place the cotton swab over the skin tag. Wrap the section in a bandage for 15 to 30 minutes, and then wash the skin. Repeat daily for a couple of weeks.
The acidity of apple cider vinegar breaks down the tissue surrounding the skin tag, causing it to fall off.
Aging may contribute to skin tags. Since vitamin E is an antioxidant that fights wrinkles and keeps the skin healthy, applying liquid vitamin E over a skin tag may cause the growth to vanish in a couple of days. Simply massage the oil over the tag and surrounding skin until it falls off.
Garlic helps improve the appearance of skin by reducing inflammation. To naturally get rid of a skin tag, apply crushed garlic over the tag, and then cover the area with a bandage overnight. Wash the area in the morning. Repeat until the skin tag shrinks and disappears.
Over-the-counter products for skin tags
Along with home remedies, several over-the-counter (OTC) products at grocery and drugstores can safely remove a skin tag. Freezing kits use cryotherapy (the use of extremely low temperatures) to destroy unwanted skin tissue. “Benign lesions, like skin tags, require temperatures of −4°F to −58°F to destroy them, ” Mokaya says.
She recommends looking for an OTC wart or skin tag removal kit that will reach the lowest temperature when used appropriately. You can also use removal devices, like a pair of sterile scissors, to get rid of skin tags, Mokaya says. Finally, Mokaya points out that removal creams can cause irritation and contact dermatitis, but they can still be effective.
Here are some products to try:
Dr. Scholl’s FreezeAway wart remover
Details: It rapidly freezes warts for removal. It can remove warts with just one treatment and is safe to use on kids as young as 4 years old. Price: $
Compound W skin tag remover
Details: Compound W freezes skin tags instantly with the use of a TagTarget skin shield to isolate the skin tag. The TagTarget is designed to adhere lightly to the surrounding healthy skin, protecting it and making it easy to target just the skin tag with the foam-tip applicator. Price: $$
Claritag Advanced skin tag removal device
Details: The Claritag Advanced skin tag removal device was developed by dermatologists with unique cryo-freeze technology that’s designed to effectively and painlessly remove skin tags. Price: $$$
Samsali skin tag remover pads
Details: Samsali skin tag remover pads can remove skin tags within a few days after first use. The adhesive bandage-style pad has a medicated patch in the middle to cover the skin tag. Price: $$
Details: TagBand works by stopping the skin tag’s blood supply. Results may be seen within days. Price: $
HaloDerm skin tag corrector
Details: HaloDerm claims it can get rid of skin tags in 7 to 10 days. The acid- free formula is gentle enough for all skin types, and can be used on the face and body. Price: $$
OHEAL wart remover cream
Details: OHEAL removes warts and skin tags easily and gently without scarring. It’s safe for both children and adults. Price: $
Surgical procedures for skin tags
If you don’t feel comfortable removing a skin tag yourself, see your doctor or a dermatologist. They can remove it for you.
After numbing the area with a local anesthetic, your doctor may perform one of the following procedures based on the size and location of the skin tag:
- Cauterization. Your doctor uses heat to remove the skin tag.
- Cryosurgery. Your doctor sprays a small amount of liquid nitrogen over the skin tag, which freezes off the growth.
- Surgery. This simply involves your doctor snipping off the skin tag at its base with surgical scissors. The size and location of the skin tag will determine the need for bandages or stitches.
Skin tags are noncancerous growths, but if a skin tag is atypical or looks suspicious, your doctor may perform a biopsy as a precaution.
Removal aftercare tips
Infections and complications don’t usually occur with skin tag removal. Some people develop a scar after removal, which may slowly disappear over time.
After removing a skin tag at home, apply antibiotic ointment to the affected area as a precaution. This lowers the risk of infection. See your doctor if the area becomes painful or bleeds.
If you have a medical procedure to remove a skin tag, your doctor’s instructions may include keeping the wound dry for at least 48 hours, and then gently washing the area with soap and water. Your doctor may also schedule a follow-up appointment to check the wound and remove any stitches, if they were needed.
Skin tags are usually harmless, so treatment isn’t necessary unless the lesion causes irritation. Although home remedies and OTC products are effective, inexpensive solutions, see your doctor if a skin tag doesn’t respond to home treatment, bleeds, or continues to grow. Several procedures can successfully remove a skin tag with minimal pain and scarring.