Disclaimer: This is not medical advice! Please talk to your doctor before attempting any treatments.
If you're looking for a way to get rid of skin tags or want to prevent them in the future, this is your go-to guide. We'll show you how to reduce their appearance and what they are so that you can be sure not to confuse them with something else. Let's explore!
We will dive into different methods of getting rid of skin tags including natural home remedies and medical treatments. This article also explores when it might be best to visit a dermatologist versus trying at-home solutions first. Lastly, we will discuss prevention strategies like wearing sunscreen every day and avoiding irritants.
The little bumps that stick out of your skin can be annoying, but usually, they are not a cause for huge concern. But what exactly are skin tags, and how can you safely get rid of them?
What are skin tags?
Skin tags are fleshy overgrowths that form on the skin, usually in places that see more friction. You can get them at any age, but they are more common in adults. They’re benign (not cancerous) and harmless, but you might be tempted to remove them for cosmetic reasons or discomfort. For instance, some people may choose to remove their skin tags if the lump is in line with their bra strap or collar.
Skin tags are very common. Some people are born with a genetic propensity for skin tags, whereas others might see them develop later in life due to lifestyle factors. There is a link between skin tags and pregnancy/weight gain, and areas that see more friction (such as armpits, or the neck) are more susceptible.
Should I be worried about them?
Skin tags are not contagious and are not an indicator of poor hygiene. There is a correlation between skin tags and obesity, diabetes, or PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), but they can also be caused by tight clothing, thyroid imbalance, or just plain bad luck. Maintaining a healthy weight may help to prevent future skin tags, but there are really no guarantees. In short, they will do you no harm, and they’re not an indication of anything more sinister. If you choose to remove them for cosmetic reasons, that’s up to you!
How do get rid of my skin tags?
Before you look into removing skin tags, it’s important to confirm that they are what they appear to be! The knobbly growths might be something else entirely, like a wart or mole, Seborrheic keratosis, or even melanoma. Your doctor or dermatologist might want to do a biopsy on the growth, just in case, or send you to a skin expert for further advice. A professional will be able to diagnose exactly what the lump is, and how to remove it.
Once growth has been confirmed as a skin tag, there are a few ways that it can be treated. It all depends on the size of the skin tag, and how far it protrudes from the skin.
For smaller tags, a cryotherapy is an effective option. Cryotherapy for skin tags is also known as liquid nitrogen treatment. A doctor will spray or swab the area with the extremely cold substance, and it will essentially freeze off the excess skin. The procedure is unpleasant but bearable. It might sting a little, and the skin might be tender and inflamed the next day. A scab will form over the tag, and will drop off within a few weeks – taking your skin tag with it. Cryotherapy is fast and safe. You’ll be in and out of the doctor’s office in minutes, and adverse reactions are rare. For this reason, it’s one of the most popular skin tag removal methods.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, extreme heat can be used to remove skin tags as well. Your doctor will heat a wire that is then used to slice through the stalk of the tag. The heat helps to prevent bleeding, and the procedure is very quick. Surrounding skin will be a bit tender and you might see a tiny scar afterwards.
Cutting or shaving
Smaller tags may also be cut or shaved, leaving them flush with the skin. Your doctor will be able to assess whether or not this is an option for you. It’s a quick procedure, but it might bleed a lot. You’ll need to take care of the wound afterwards to prevent infection. Though it may be tempting to cut the tag off yourself, it can lead to severe infections, excessive bleeding, and scarring. For best results, leave it to the experts.
For larger skin tags with a deeper stalk, surgical removal might be the best option. Your doctor will numb the area and then use a scalpel to cut out the skin tag. Depending on the size, you might require stitches to close the wound. It will be tender for a few days afterwards, and you’ll need to be careful with the wound until it fully heals. It probably will leave a scar.
Alternative remedies for skin tags
We know, we know, we’re sounding like a broken record at this point, but here it is one more time: it’s important to get your skin tags checked by a doctor! Home remedies might give you a small amount of success, but there’s not enough evidence to show they actually work. Worse still, if your self-diagnosed skin tag turns out to be a mole or skin cancer melanoma, you can do real damage. In fact, attempting to remove a melanoma yourself could leave you with cancer cells spreading throughout the rest of your body, without you having a clue.
Other methods such as wrapping dental floss around the skin tag may have some effect in getting the tip of the skin tag to drop off, but you’re unlikely to be able to get the whole thing. Cutting off the circulation to any part of the body is dangerous, and can lead to complications. Plus, who wants to walk around for three days with dental floss dangling from their neck?
Topical treatments of health products like apple cider vinegar and coconut oil have no clinical evidence to back their claim. It won’t harm your skin to apply coconut oil, but it’s unlikely to make any difference to your skin tags. Similarly, most people won’t see adverse reactions to apple cider vinegar – but you probably won’t see any meaningful results either.
At best, home removal is a waste of time. At worst, it may cause irreparable damage to the skin. Do your largest organ a favor; leave skin tag removal to the professionals.
Diet and skin tags
There is strong evidence that hormonal imbalances such as insulin resistance can cause the appearance of skin tags. Some medical professionals suggest that the use of low-carb diets such as keto or carnivore can lead to the skin tag removal.
Ultimately, there are many ways people go about skin tag removal on their own without seeing an expert which can lead them to skin irritation and in some cases skin infections. A dermatologist is trained to help you safely get rid of skin tags while also preventing them from coming back again. If you find yourself with a skin tag, make sure not to remove it on your own because doing so can lead to scarring or even infection if not done correctly!
Can I cut off a skin tag with nail clippers?
No, it can be dangerous to cut skin tags off with items that are not designed for skin tag removal. It can also lead to a lot of bleeding, infections and scarring. However, if your skin tag is larger in size then surgical removal might be the best option.
What skin tag removal method should I use?
If your skin tags are quite large, then surgical skin tag removal might be the only way to have them removed. Other methods such as wrapping dental floss around it or cutting off its circulation will not work well enough for larger skin tags and could lead to complications further down the line.
How do skin tags grow?
Skin tags are benign tumors that form from skin cells that have been trapped in an area where skin rubs against skin or another surface such as your clothes for a prolonged period of time. They can be caused by increased hormone levels, aging, weight gain, and even genetics which is why some people are more likely to have skin tags than others.
How can I remove a skin tag fast?
To remove skin tags fast, dermatologists often use cryotherapy which is the freezing of skin cells with liquid nitrogen. The skin tag will fall off within a few weeks following this procedure and there are no stitches required afterwards.
Can I remove a skin tag safely?
You can remove skin tags safely, but it’s best to do so in the presence of a dermatologist. They will be able to help you find skin tag removal methods and help you decide which one is right for your skin type and skin condition.
What are skin tags caused by?
Skin tag development is caused by skin cells that have been trapped in an area where skin rubs against skin or another surface, such as clothes for a prolonged period of time. They are caused by genetics and hormone levels which is why some people are more likely to have skin tags than others. However, they can also be caused by obesity, aging, stress, and hormonal imbalances.
How can I prevent skin tags?
There are some skin tag prevention methods that you can use to help reduce your risk of skin tags in the future, such as wearing loose clothing and keeping skin moisturized. It’s also important not to scratch or pick at skin moles because this could cause a breakout which could lead to an infection.
How can I get rid of skin tags around the eyes?
If you have skin tags that are in a visible spot such as your neck or face, then it’s best to seek professional help from a dermatologist who will be able to remove unwanted skin tissue with minimal discomfort and scarring. They may also prescribe skin tag removal skin creams that you can use to reduce your skin tags before having them removed.