From apple cider vinegar and toothpaste to skin tag patches and bands, there are several suggestions on how to remove skin tags on your own. Whether they work or are safe varies. That's why it's best to have a skin tag removed by a skin specialist called a dermatologist.
They can make sure the growth really is a skin tag, as opposed to skin cancer or another type of lesion, and remove the skin tag in a way that minimizes the risk of complications, like infection.
This article goes over what you should know about removing skin tags. You'll learn about the options for removing a skin tag at home as well as professional skin tag removal.
Can You Prevent Skin Tags?
Reasons to Remove Skin Tags
Skin tags (acrochordons) are harmless, noncancerous skin growths. They do not need to be removed, but can be is they are bothersome.
Even if a skin tag does not hurt or cause discomfort, it can be an annoyance for other reasons, including:
- It gets caught on clothing or jewelry
- It occasionally bleeds
- You don't like how they look
At-Home Skin Tag Removal Methods
There are many different DIY methods for skin tag removal. The evidence on whether they work is mixed.
Some of these can be tried without concern for side effects, if you're interested in seeing if they work for you. But others do pose risks and should be avoided.
Regardless, the biggest concern with these suggestions overall lies in that you would be using them on your own without getting a proper evaluation by a professional. You may be self-treating a skin tag that isn't actually a skin tag.
Bothersome skin tags in particularly delicate areas like near the eyes, genitalia, or anus should always be removed by a healthcare practitioner. Also be sure you see a practitioner if the growth is not one solid color, it bleeds, is painful, or grows quickly. These are not characteristics of a skin tag.
How Can You Tell if a Skin Growth Is Cancer?
Sometimes, people claim that using toothpaste can remove a skin tag. However, these claims are anecdotal. There is no scientific evidence that supports the method.
Skin Tag Removal Bands
Skin tag removal bands are also called ligation. With this method, a band is wrapped around the stem of the skin tag and cuts off the blood supply.
When it stops getting blood, the skin tag's cells will die. Once this happens, the skin tag can be twisted or pulled off.
Ligation should be performed by a dermatologist. Using skin tag removal bands yourself poses the risk of infection, bleeding, scarring, and only partial removal of the skin tag, which can result in it growing back.
Skin Tag Patch
You may see over-the-counter (OTC) skin tag patches at your local pharmacy. Most look like round stickers.
You apply a patch over your skin tag. After leaving it on for a period of time, you remove it and the skin tag is supposed to come off as well.
However, there is not enough evidence that this method works. It can also cause skin irritation.
Do Skin Tag Patches Work?
Skin Tag Removal Cream
Creams made with tea tree oil and salicylic acid are said to help remove skin tags, but these ingredients can actually be irritating to the skin.
In fact, skin tag cream can cause a type of skin inflammation called contact dermatitis.
OTC freezing kits contain chemicals that lower the temperature of the skin tag. The low temperature destroys the unwanted skin tissue.
However, OTC kits do not lower the temperature enough to work. It may also take several applications before you see any results.
Dermatologists can use liquid nitrogen to get a lower skin temperature, making their freezing method more effective than OTC options.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Some people claim you can remove a skin tag by soaking a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and applying it to your skin with a small bandage.
It's said that the apple cider vinegar method can take two weeks to work, but there isn't much scientific proof that it's an effective way to remove a skin tag.
Tea Tree Oil
Similar to the apple cider vinegar method, some people claim that applying a cotton ball soaked in tea tree oil to a skin tag can remove it.
Again, people claim this method takes several weeks to work but the evidence is limited. Plus, some people can have allergic skin reactions to tea tree oil.
Put Down the Clippers
Never use nail clippers or a sharp instrument to cut skin tags off. A healthcare provider is trained to minimize scarring and control excessive bleeding, should it occur. They also disinfect the skin and sterilize their instruments to prevent infection.
What to Do If You Have a Skin Tag on Your Eyelid
Professional Skin Tag Removal
A healthcare provider has several options for removing skin tags, including:
- Excision (surgical removal)
- Cauterization (burning it off)
- Cryosurgery (freezing it off)
With excision, a provider uses a sterile technique to cut the skin tag off. They use a scalpel (surgical blade) or surgical scissors to do this. These are much sharper than clippers or scissors you would use at home.
Generally, only smaller skin tags are removed this way.
A chemical compound can be applied after removal to reduce bleeding.
Cauterization is when a skin tag is burned off at its base. A provider can do this with an electrical probe or needle that produces an electric current.
This method of skin tag removal also seals the wound to prevent infection and bleeding.
In cryosurgery, the skin tag is frozen with liquid nitrogen. It may burn when the provider applies it to your skin.
After cryosurgery, it takes approximately 10 days for the tag to fall off.
Will My Health Insurance Cover Skin Tag Removal?
Unless your skin tags are harming your physical or mental health, removing them is not usually covered by health insurance. A skin tag removal procedure is considered cosmetic, which means you will have to pay for it out of pocket.
Skin Tag Removal Aftercare
How you need to care for your skin after a skin tag is removed depends on the method used to remove it. You may be told to keep the area clean and dry. If so, wash it gently once or twice a day and pat dry.
If the skin tag was excised, you may be told to keep a bandage on it for several days. In some cases, you may be told to leave the wound uncovered instead. Your provider may also suggest applying an antibiotic ointment.
Larger wounds may need stitches. Your provider will tell you how to care for your stitches and wound. You'll usually need the keep the area clean and covered for the first 24 to 48 hours after the removal procedure.
If your skin tag was removed by cryosurgery or cauterization and the area rubs against your clothing, you may need to bandage it to prevent irritation.
After skin tag removal, avoid products that can slow healing such as:
- Skin cleansers
- Antibacterial soap
Skin tags are usually harmless and do not need to be removed. However, if they are bothering you, you might want to remove them
Removing a skin tag on your own at home has risks, including bleeding, infection, and scarring. Having a professional do it can minimize the risks and ensure that the growth is not a more serious problem such as skin cancer.
A dermatologist can safely remove a skin tag with a scalpel or scissors, cauterization, or cryosurgery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do skin tags grow back?
Skin tags that are removed in full will not grow back. However, it's possible to get a new skin tag near where you had one before.
What causes skin tag growth?
The cause of skin tags is unknown. That said, they often form in areas where there is skin-to-skin friction, like the armpits, groin or thighs, and under the breasts. Research has shown that that diabetes, human papillomavirus (HPV), and genetics may play a role in skin tag growth in some people.
How much does skin tag removal cost?
Skin tag removal typically costs around $100. Health insurance plans usually will not cover skin tag removal unless it affects your physical or mental health.
Is natural skin tag removal effective?
There are many home remedies for removing skin tags that are claimed to be effective, like applying apple cider vinegar or tea tree oil. However, there is not enough scientific evidence to support these methods.(Video) How do you get rid of skin tags naturally? - Dr. Madhu SM
The bottom line: If you're wondering how to cut off skin tags painlessly or how to remove skin tags at home, there are no entirely safe steps or methods to try, and DIY'ing it could, again, lead to bleeding, scarring, and/or an infection. “I don't recommend anything at home,” Dr. Evans says.What is the easiest way to remove skin tags at home? ›
Soak a cotton swab in apple cider vinegar and 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.Whats the fastest way to get rid of a skin tag? ›
The only way to properly remove skin tags is by visiting a dermatologist or other medical professional. Skin tags are easily irritated and can bleed a large amount if not removed properly. There are different ways they can be removed, but at MinuteClinic, your provider will use scissors to cut off the skin tag.Can I cut off a skin tag with nail clippers? ›
As skin tags have blood vessels, you will want to avoid using nail clippers, scissors or any other methods that could cause uncontrollable bleeding.What kills a skin tag? ›
Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the skin tag and destroy it. As the cold energy kills off the cells of the skin tag, you can expect it to fall off within a few days of your treatment.Does Compound W get rid of skin tags? ›
Compound W, known best for its multiple warts removal treatments, also offers a popular over-the-counter topical skin tag remover. The brand's skin tag remover consists of a freeze-off liquid, formulated with dimethyl ether, a liquid nitrogen substitute that can help remove skin tags.Do skin tags grow back? ›
Will Skin Tags Grow Back After Being Removed? Skin tags do not grow back after removal. If you develop other skin tags in the same place after removal, you may just be prone to having them in that area.Why am I getting skin tags? ›
Skin tags occur when extra cells grow in the top layers of the skin. They tend to develop when the skin rubs against itself, so are more common in people who are overweight and therefore have folds of skin. They grow both in men and women and are more common in older people and people living with type 2 diabetes.How long does it take for a skin tag to fall off when tied with string? ›
You can help remove a skin tag by tying a string or dental floss around the skin tag. This will cut off the blood supply to the skin tag, and it will fall off after a few days.How long does it take for a skin tag to fall off using vinegar? ›
Apple cider vinegar
Place a bandage over the cotton ball to keep it in place for 15-30 minutes. Remove and wash the area. Do this daily until the skin tag falls off. It may take a couple weeks for the acid in the vinegar to break down the skin tag tissue.
Scholl's® Freeze Away® Skin Tag Remover is the only over-the-counter FDA cleared technology for skin tag removal – so you can remove embarrassing skin tags in the privacy of your own home.How do you remove skin tags with Colgate? ›
The bottom line. There's no evidence to suggest that toothpaste is a safe or effective way to get rid of a bothersome skin tag. There's some anecdotal evidence that tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, or even garlic may work when applied directly to the lesion.Do skin tags bleed when pulled off? ›
Third, skin tags can, and do, bleed if you try removing them at home. With your skin opened up, you put yourself at risk for infection, making the original skin tag a problem you wish you still had.Do skin tags bleed a lot when cut off? ›
For example, they may suggest tying off the base of the skin tag with dental floss or cotton to cut off its blood supply and make it drop off (ligation). Never attempt to remove large skin tags yourself because they'll bleed heavily.Do skin tags turn black before they fall off? ›
At times, a skin tag may turn purple or black. This is known as a clotted skin tag, or thrombosed skin tag. This occurs when the blood supply to the skin tag is inadequate. In most cases, these skin tags will fall off on their own within 3 to 10 days time.How to prevent skin tags? ›
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Getting regular exercise.
- Avoiding jewelry and clothing that may rub against your skin.
There's no scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar removes skin tags. In fact, recent studies suggest it may actually damage your skin. A 2015 article noted the case of a teenage girl who applied apple cider vinegar to a mole on her face every day for three days and covered it with a bandage.Do skin tags mean diabetes? ›
Skin tags. Many people have skin tags—skin growths that hang from a stalk. While harmless, having numerous skin tags may be a sign that you have too much insulin in your blood or type 2 diabetes.Does tea tree oil remove skin tags? ›
Although no scientific research has been done on the use of tea tree oil for skin tags, anecdotal reports suggest that it works. People claim that tea tree oil dehydrates skin tags, causing them to dry up and fall off. Skin tags are painless, flesh-colored growths that hang off the skin.Should I be worried if I have skin tags? ›
There's no need to worry—skin tags aren't a sign of a more serious health issue. It's a benign skin condition that affects millions of people every year. These tiny skin growths are often found in “folds” of the skin, or areas where skin frequently rubs against itself.
Molluscum contagiosum is an infection caused by a poxvirus (molluscum contagiosum virus). The result of the infection is usually a benign, mild skin disease characterized by lesions (growths) that may appear anywhere on the body.Do skin tags indicate health problems? ›
Researchers have recently found associations between skin tags and a number of clinical conditions. Patients who have multiple skin tags are at elevated risk for acromegaly, colonic polyps, Crohn's disease, diabetes, hypertension, lipid disorders, and acanthosis nigricans.What happens if you accidentally pull off a skin tag? ›
If a skin tag accidently gets pulled off, it's usually not a problem. If it bleeds, apply firm pressure for a few minutes until the bleeding stops. Look for signs of infection as it heals, including pain that lasts, spreading redness, or any drainage. If this happens, see your provider.How long does it take for skin tag removal to fall off? ›
How long will it take for my skin tag to fall off? After cryotherapy, the skin tag should fall off within ten days to four weeks. In order to remove skin tags and other skin growths or lesions, cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the skin tag.How do dermatologists remove skin tags? ›
Dermatologists have several simple methods to remove skin tags. Cryotherapy can be used to freeze them off, skin tags may be removed with scissors or a scalpel, or an electric needle can burn them off. This last procedure is known as electrodessication. Your dermatologist can determine the best method for removal.Can vinegar damage your skin? ›
Vinegar can be caustic if you leave it on your skin, and it shouldn't be used to treat wounds. Any acne sores are at risk for incurring a burn or major irritation. Plus, using ACV as a facial product puts your peepers at risk. If you get it in your eyes, you could experience inflammation or even a cornea burn.How does nail polish remove skin tags? ›
Clear nail polish is a home remedy that some people say can remove skin tags. Clear nail polish might work to get rid of skin tags by essentially suffocating the skin cells. If you want to get rid of a skin tag or mole for cosmetic reasons, clear nail polish might be effective — but that doesn't mean that it's safe.How does mayonnaise get rid of skin tags? ›
If the diagnosis is a benign skin tag, treatments include removal with sterile surgical scissors; freezing with liquid nitrogen; and electrical burning, or cautery. These treatments often can be completed with minimal discomfort.Can skin tags be cancerous? ›
Skin tags are not cancerous, but it's not uncommon for people to mistake them as precancerous growths. Brown spots or age spots are usually harmless skin discolorations (usually brown) and are called lentigo. Lentigines are more common among people with fair skin.Is removing skin tags harmful? ›
Removal of skin tags is not completely without risk. A skin tag can be removed immediately in the office with surgical scissors or excision, but minor bleeding or a local infection could occur.
What causes skin tags? Acrochordons occur when the body produces extra cells in the skin's top layers. They tend to form in skin folds and areas where natural movement causes the skin to rub against itself.Does over the counter skin tag removal work? ›
Over the counter liquid products may simply irritate the skin and not lead to the resolution of tags, as can do-it-yourself "strangulation" at home with dental floss or string. If possible, visiting a board certified dermatologist is the best way to determine which method will work the best.When should you not remove skin tags? ›
When should you remove a skin tag? A skin tag that's infected or inflamed should come off, says Lamb. Otherwise, you don't need to remove it unless you don't like the way it looks or it's getting caught in your clothes or jewelry and irritating you.