I never knew what skin tags were until about 10 years ago. They’re annoying more than anything, but I know some people who are very concerned when they have them (even if they’ve gone to the doctor and been cleared). Good to see there are a number of home remedies. Not surprised to see apple cider vinegar listed as a possible solution. If ever nature produced a universal elixir, that would be it.
These benign growths often appear on the folds of the skin where moisture and friction are common. This includes under arms and in the armpit region, on the neck, under the breast, near the genitals, on eyelids, or on the torso. While they can be irritated by clothing or jewelry, they typically are painless. Rarely, if a skin tag is twisted, a small blood clot can develop, which may make it tender or painful.
The vast majority of moles are not dangerous. Moles that are more likely to be cancer are those that look different than other existing moles or those that first appear after age 25. If you notice changes in a mole's color, height, size, or shape, you should have a dermatologist (skin doctor) evaluate it. You also should have moles checked if they bleed, ooze, itch, or become tender or painful.
Tying a String. For an elongated skin tag, your physician may tie a sterile string around the base to cut off the blood supply, causing the skin tag to die. As skin tags do have a blood supply of their own and doing this technique improperly can cause excessive bleeding, it is not recommended to do this yourself. When deciding how to remove skin tags, there are other safe and effective at-home treatments you can try.
There are a few methods that can be used in removing a mole. Factors such as depth, size and location will help determine the most effective removal method. Moles that are flush to the skin may be able to be removed using a simple shaving technique or a laser treatment. For deep-seated moles, excision is the only way to remove it safely and effectively. During this process, the doctor will cut away the mole along with a small border of skin that surrounds it. Sutures are placed deep within the excision so that a clean, thin scar will be all that remains.
Except for the cosmetic appearance, skin tags generally cause no physical pain or discomfort. These tiny skin growths generally cause symptoms when they are repeatedly irritated (for example, by the collar or in the groin). Cosmetic reasons are the most common reason for skin tag removal. The following symptoms and signs may necessitate skin tag removal:
Skin tags themselves have a core of fibers and ducts, nerve cells, fat cells and a layer of skin surrounding it. They may have a stalk and generally look like a small piece of hanging skin. Skin tags may have a smooth surface or an irregular surface. They are often raised and either slightly brown or flesh colored. They generally start quite small and flat, like the bump on a pinhead. Sizes vary, and they can grow up to 5 cm in size. (2)
More than half if not all of the general population has been reported to have skin tags at some time in their lives. Although tags are generally acquired (not present at birth) and may occur in anyone, more often they arise in adulthood. They are much more common in middle age, and they tend to increase in prevalence up to age 60. Children and toddlers may also develop skin tags, particularly in the underarm and neck areas. Skin tags are more common in overweight people.
Be aware that home remedies are not supported by medical evidence. Most home remedies are based on anecdotal evidence, meaning that some people have tried these remedies and reported that they had success. However, treating a mole at home can be unsafe and high risk. The mole may be cancerous and this requires medical treatment. Make sure to talk with your doctor about your moles before trying any home remedies.
Castor oil has been a medicine cabinet staple for generations, much like baking soda. Together, they may help to safely get rid of a bothersome skin tag. Mix two parts castor oil with one part baking soda and rub it gently over the skin tag. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, or banana or papaya peel, and secure with a bandage. Leave on overnight and rinse off in the morning. Repeat nightly until the skin tag falls off.
One final cost is pathology to determine if the mole is cancerous or precancerous. This isn't usually necessary if the mole has been there a very long time. If the mole is new, has changed recently, or has other suspicious features like bleeding, your health insurance should cover the cost of removal and pathology. If you don't have insurance or if you prefer to have a mole sent even when it's being removed for purely cosmetic reasons, then pathology will cost an additional $125-200.
Avoid using mole removal creams. These creams are often sold online, marketed as a cheap, noninvasive alternative to surgical removal. In fact, mole removal creams can end up leaving deep pockets in your skin, since they go beyond the mole and dig into the skin underneath, causing irreparable damage. The small scar left behind by surgical removal is minimal in comparison.
But that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore skin tags. David Lorschter, MD, founder of Curology and a board-certified dermatologist in San Diego, notes there are exceptions. He says people with a genetic disorder called basal cell nevus system (BCNS) usually exhibit spots of basal cell skin cancer that look like — you guessed it — skin tags. Therefore, people with BCNS should have their skin tags biopsied and screened for cancer on a regular basis.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
If you are wanting a mole removed for cosmetic reasons, it is important you first consult with a board certified dermatologist to ensure the mole is not concerning for melanoma. Once the mole has been assessed and deemed to appear benign on clinical inspection, a discussion should be had on whether a shave removal, punch biopsy or excision would have the best cosmetic outcome. With elevated moles a shave removal is usually performed which can leave a good cosmetic result in most cases. For flat moles, punch biopsy or excision is usually performed, but you should have a discussion with your dermatologist on whether the scar or mole will be more cosmetically appealing. At our office, shave removal of one mole is typically quoted at $138 to $200. Lastly, it is important the mole be sent for pathology to a board certified dermatopathologist. Pathology is charged separately by the dermaopathologist with prices ranging from $100 to $300.
Really works! My dermatologist checked me over but couldn’t do anything with the many unsightly moles all over my body, neck and face. She said insurance wouldn’t cover it. I tried H-Mole and it ACTUALLY WORKED! (This is not a paid review. I received nothing for my opinion). I just can’t believe something natural could work so well! You do have to keep after it, using 3x/day pretty tough, but even using twice/day has helped me shrink large and get rid of small moles. So pleased! Helped get rid of keratosis “moles” in a matter of days. * - Tayjia
There is some evidence that applying a banana peel or papaya peel to a skin tag may cause it to die and fall off. It seems to be even more effective when used in combination with tea tree oil. Before bed, simply put a few drops of tea tree oil on the skin tag and then cover with a peel, securing in place with a bandage. Repeat nightly until the skin tag dies and falls off. Do not do this if you have a latex allergy or sensitivity.
I went on my way after my doctor’s appointment, relieved. But maybe I shouldn’t have been. Many doctors I've spoken to say people with obesity are more likely to get skin tags due to the increase in skin friction. I probably weighed 120 pounds (lbs) booted out in snow gear. But there are other risk factors for skin tags — factors that, if you’re suffering from them, may be worth investigating.