Make a dermatologist appointment. The majority of skin tags are harmless, but it is best to talk with a dermatologist if you notice that the tag is darker than your skin color, large in size, or unusual in shape. If you remove the tag without consulting a professional you could lose valuable time in the event that it is a sign of a larger problem.
My skin tags, of course — like the skin tags of millions of people — were fine. They didn’t irritate or bother me, though some doctors mentioned them getting twisted in necklace or irritated by rubbing on clothing. When that happens, or for cosmetic reasons, skin tags are easily removed. “There are several methods of removal — clip them with sharp scissors; freeze them with liquid nitrogen; or burn them off with heat,” meaning cauterize them, Dr. Besser says. (All of this should be performed by a medical professional, not at home.)
Simply thinking about having a mole removed might send a few shivers down your spine, but sometimes it’s just necessary for your health, Gary Goldenberg, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, tells SELF. If, for example, you have a mole that your doctor suspects or has confirmed through a biopsy is cancerous, excising the mole can help to stop any cancer from potentially growing more. But people also have moles removed for cosmetic reasons or because they’re simply annoying, like if one falls just under your bra strap and always gets irritated, Dr. Goldenberg says.
The internet, of course, is full of interesting suggestions, including tying the stalk of a skin tag with dental floss or thread in an attempt to strangulate it and make it fall off. This, too, is a recipe for traumatizing your skin. Don't fall for sites hocking skin tag removal products. The right way to remove a skin tag is at the dermatologist's office. If you've been Googling "how to remove skin tags at home," you might as well stop.
There are two types of cauterization that can be applied, which are electrocautery and chemical cautery. You can guess from the names of them. Electrocautery is burning off skin tissue with a thin metal bar from the heat of electric current; whereas chemical cautery is the use of chemical reactions on the skin so that you can get rid of small lesions. However, due to its ability to affect surrounding areas of the wounds, chemical cauterization is not always recommended for removing skin tags.
Other skin conditions such as warts and moles can resemble skin tags. Since some moles may be cancerous, it’s best to have your skin tags examined by a doctor. Your dermatologist or family doctor will be able to diagnose skin tags. They’ll likely do this through a visual exam. If they have any doubt about the diagnosis, they may also perform a biopsy.
The causes of skin tags are not entirely clear but their presence in skin fold areas suggests that friction or frequent irritation is a potential cause. The condition appears to have a genetic component (there is a tendency for skin tags to occur in families) but other potential causes include hormonal imbalances. For example, skin tags are associated with agromegaly, the growth hormone disorder.
Skin tags are usually harmless, so treatment isn’t necessary unless the lesion causes irritation. Although home remedies and over-the-counter products are effective, inexpensive solutions, see a 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.
Some doctors said skin tags wouldn’t grow. Some told me they would keep growing. Most of them said they would increase in frequency as a person ages, and sure enough, what did I find over my eyelid the other day — a tiny little skin tag, just where the lid rubs against my brow. For cosmetic reasons, I’d consider getting that one removed, though the thought of liquid nitrogen on that thin skin makes me shudder, as do the aesthetics of a giant Band-Aid on my face for days.
The implications of this differentiation help someone understand whether mole removal is covered by health insurance. So, cosmetic removal or removal of a mole because it is unsighly is not medically necessary and insurance will not cover this whereas insurance will cover the suspicious appearing mole. Regardless, the cost of mole removal will vary anywhere from $100 to $500 based upon size, location and shape.
There are no currently medically approved creams for the removal of skin tags. Skin tags are typically removed by physical methods like cutting off or tying off with dental floss. It is not advisable to use unapproved products like Dermasil, wart removers, tea tree oil, nail polish, toothpaste, or hair-removal creams like Neet or Nair. Trial uses of unapproved creams may cause irritation and possible secondary complications.
This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Josh Axe and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Axe nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
Skin tags are thought to be caused by collagen and blood vessels that bunch together and get caught inside thicker skin. As skin tags more commonly occur in skin creases or fold, it is believed they are mainly caused by skin rubbing against skin. However, no one knows for sure. Skin tags affect all people of any gender. However, some people are at a higher risk for developing skin tags. You may be more likely to develop skin tags if any of the following applies to you:
And speaking of cancer, it’s generally not something you need to worry about with regular old skin tags. Dr. Farber says that, “If anything changes quickly, is unusually painful, or concerns you, it’s worth getting it examined to confirm it’s a benign skin tag …. Skin tags tend to grow very slowly. Any growth that changes quickly is a reason to get examined by a dermatologist.”
The cause of acrochordons is unknown, however there are several theories. Irritation or friction to the skin, as occurs with skin rubbing on skin in body folds, may play a role in their formation. Acrochordons are found more commonly in people who are overweight or have diabetes. This may be due to body habitus (more skin folds), but some people think insulin resistance may somehow contribute to the development of these harmless tumors. A study of 49 patients with acrochordons showed that the human papilloma virus (HPV) was present in a high percentage of growths, suggesting the virus plays a role in development. It is also possible that acrochordons are genetic or simply due to normal aging and loss of elastic tissue. There is a genetic disorder called Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome that is characterized by numerous skin tags along with other skin and systemic findings.
Simply soak a sterile cotton ball with apple cider vinegar and secure it in place over the skin tag with a bandage for 20 minutes. Remove and check for any irritation on the skin. If no irritation is evident, you will want to do the 20-minute treatment during the day and then before bed. Apply the soaked cotton ball and secure it, and leave it on overnight.
A topical application of liquid iodine may help remove skin tags. It works by breaking down skin cells, so it is extremely important that you only apply to the skin tag and avoid the healthy surrounding skin. To be safe, carefully apply coconut oil to a one-half inch area around the skin tag to create a barrier. Then apply a couple of drops of iodine with a sterile cotton swab. Repeat twice each day until the skin tag falls off.
I’ve actually used 3 of the methods mentioned, 1 was by accident! I actually tied a hair around one and after a few failed attempts I tied it so tight it almost hurt, a few days later it was gone. Also tried using wart remover but it was painful. And lastly, I accidentally scratched one off… I wouldn’t recommend this as it bleeds A LOT and it’s obviously painful. All work but I’d suggest tying thread or string!
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.