Skin tags, medically called acrochordons, are small, soft, benign growths that often form on the neck, underarms, eyelids, breasts, groin, and thighs. While they’re generally harmless, some people may wish to remove them for cosmetic reasons or because they find them annoying.
Here’s how to get rid of skin tags.
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1. Medical Removal
One of the safest ways to remove skin tags is by consulting with a healthcare provider or a board-certified dermatologist. They can safely and effectively remove skin tags through procedures such as surgical removal, freezing (cryotherapy), or burning (cauterization).
2. Over-the-Counter Treatments
There are over-the-counter treatments specifically designed for removing skin tags. These usually involve a solution or a patch that, when applied, causes the skin tag to dry out and fall off.
3. Tie the Skin Tag with Dental Floss
Another method to get rid of a skin tag is to tie it off at the base with dental floss or thread. This method, known as ligation, cuts off the blood supply to the skin tag, thereby causing it to dry up and fall off. It’s important to ensure the area is clean before and after the procedure to prevent infection.
4. Tea Tree Oil
Some people claim that applying tea tree oil to skin tags over time can cause them to fall off. Apply the oil to a cotton ball, stick it to the skin tag with a bandage, and leave it on for a few hours. Repeat this daily. However, scientific evidence to back up this claim is limited, and you should always do a patch test first to ensure you’re not allergic to the oil.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Similar to tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar is a home remedy some people use to remove skin tags. However, like tea tree oil, there’s limited research to confirm its effectiveness.
6. Do Not Cut Them Off Yourself
Though some might be tempted, cutting off skin tags yourself is not recommended. It can lead to bleeding, infection, and scarring. Always seek professional help for surgical removal.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are skin tags?
Also known as acrochordons, skin tags are small, soft, flesh-colored benign growths hanging off the skin. They are made of loose collagen fibers and blood vessels surrounded by skin. Skin tags typically appear in areas where the skin folds, such as the armpits, neck, eyelids, and groin area.
What causes skin tags?
While the exact cause of skin tags isn’t known, they are more likely to develop in individuals who are obese or have type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, they tend to occur more frequently in older people and pregnant women, possibly due to hormonal changes.
Some evidence suggests that skin friction may also play a role in their formation.
Are skin tags harmful?
It’s no secret that skin tags are harmless and don’t usually cause any pain or discomfort. However, they can be annoying, particularly when they rub against clothing or usually get caught on jewelry. If a skin tag is causing concern or discomfort, it can be removed by a healthcare professional.
Can I remove a skin tag myself?
While it might be tempting to remove a skin tag yourself, it’s not advisable to cut or tear a skin tag off without professional medical help. This could lead to bleeding, infection, or scarring.
Are over-the-counter products effective for skin tag removal?
Some over-the-counter products can effectively remove skin tags by freezing them. However, these treatments should be used cautiously and according to the instructions, as they may cause skin irritation or not be suitable for all areas of the body.
Can skin tags turn into cancer?
Skin tags are benign and don’t develop into skin cancer. However, if a skin tag changes color or appearance, it’s advisable to have it checked by a healthcare professional to rule out other skin conditions. But remember, changes in a skin tag are not necessarily a sign of cancer.
How can you prevent skin tags?
While there’s no surefire way to prevent skin tags, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding friction can potentially reduce their occurrence. Skin tags often form in skin folds, so reducing excess skin folds through weight management might help.
Similarly, wearing loose clothing and avoiding jewelry that rubs against the skin could also minimize skin tags. However, it’s important to note that anyone can get skin tags, and they’re typically harmless.
The Bottom Line
While some home remedies can help remove skin tags, consulting with a healthcare professional is always safer and more effective. They can advise you on the best method according to your skin type and the location of the skin tag. Avoid self-removal methods that could lead to complications.