Skin tags are soft, benign growths that usually form within the skin folds of your neck, armpits, breasts, groin area, and eyelids. These growths are loose collagen fibers that become lodged inside thicker areas of the skin. It’s unclear exactly what causes skin tags, but they may develop from friction or skin rubbing against skin. One study found a link between skin tags and obesity and type 2 diabetes. Hormonal changes in pregnancy may also contribute to skin tags.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which begins in skin cells called melanocytes and affects more than 53,600 people in the United States each year. These melanocytes can grow together to form benign moles which, after a change in size, shape, or color can be a sign of melanoma. Caused by sun exposure, early detection becomes extremely important to avoid a spread to other areas of the body. Diagnosis is confirmed through a biopsy of the abnormal skin and treatment depends on the extent and characteristics of the patient. Metastatic melanoma is melanoma that has spread to various organs.
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.
Tell your doctor if the skin tag is painful, itchy, bleeding or constantly catching on clothes or jewelry. Any of this can help the case if you're fighting for your health insurance to foot the bill. And if insurance does pay for it they will pay for up to 14 symptomatic skin tags at one time, explains Geraghty. "For people who come in with quite a few skin tags, it’s good to just get them all done on the same day just from an insurance standpoint."
While the majority of skin tags are simply destroyed, sometimes tissue is sent for microscopic exam by a health care specialist known as a pathologist, who will determine the exact diagnosis and determine whether an abnormality such as skin cancer is present. Irregular skin growths that are larger, bleed, or have an unusual presentation may require pathology examination to make sure there are no irregular cells or skin cancers.
Burning the skin tag. If cutting or freezing the tag off isn’t an option, the dermatologist may burn the skin tag off. The skin tag and surrounding area will be cleaned. The doctor then uses a small piece of wire that is heated with an electrical current to burn the stalk of the tag. The heat will help prevent the skin tag from bleeding. The tag should fall off following the procedure.
Use tea tree oil. Tea tree oil may be helpful for certain skin conditions, such as acne, fungal infections, and bug bites, so you can try it on your mole if you like.[11] Brush tea tree oil on the mole twice daily using a q-tip. At night, you can also soak a cotton ball in tea tree oil and secure it over the mole with a Band-Aid. Repeat this method for a month, or however long it takes the mole to go away. However, keep in mind that applying tea tree oil to your skin daily may cause it to burn. Stop if skin irritation occurs.
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.
Don’t impulsively deem any protruding bump as a skin tag; after all, there is an overwhelming number of things it could be—moles and seborrheic keratoses can closely resemble skin tags. Even worse, it could be something that requires medical treatment such as genital warts (possible indication of a sexually transmitted disease). Some growths could also be an extension of glands on the skin, and they can get infected if you’re poking at them at home. As a rule of thumb, if the tag is pigmented, see a dermatologist to get it evaluated. And here are 11 other skin mysteries you should know about.
Doctors remove many moles every day, but there is always one recurring theme that dermatologists tell people: Be aware of your body and any moles that have changed over time. This is especially true for moles that are dark or flat. Invariably, people will see doctors and be extremely concerned about raised, lightly colored moles, but they are not concerned about the dark, black melanoma (skin cancer) next to the mole. This is truly important.
Thankfully, this is far from true. While a lot of people worry that removing one will lead to more down the road, take comfort in knowing this is bogus info. Any additional breakout is because they were meant to spawn there. “One skin tag has nothing to do with another. Though removing one does not mean that you will never get another—as a doctor cannot prevent them from coming—it also does not equate to causing more to grow,” informs Dr. Shah.
If you had stitches, your doctor will recommend that for a few days you keep the area as dry as possible and avoid doing any heavy exercise, Dr. Conrad says. (Both of these factors can throw a wrench into things if you’re super active—be sure to discuss that with your doctor if it worries you.) If you had a pretty quick and easy removal, you should be fine to return to any usual habits like working out the next day, but it’s still smart to run that by your doctor first.

Thankfully, this is far from true. While a lot of people worry that removing one will lead to more down the road, take comfort in knowing this is bogus info. Any additional breakout is because they were meant to spawn there. “One skin tag has nothing to do with another. Though removing one does not mean that you will never get another—as a doctor cannot prevent them from coming—it also does not equate to causing more to grow,” informs Dr. Shah.
Those who are concerned about scarring should consider seeking out a plastic surgeon as they understand the cosmetic approach to take. This is recommended especially to those who have larger moles. A plastic surgeon will focus on minimizing scarring as much as possible. Post-surgery care is especially important to create a natural, attractive outcome.

Dermatologists say nay: The tags are almost never cancerous and don’t need to be removed; in fact, they’re (almost!) always benign. And while many people opt to remove them due to discomfort or for cosmetic reasons, there is no harm in leaving them be. There are extremely rare exceptions to this rule: In one study, two patients with known basal cell nevus syndrome (BCNS) were found to have multiple basal cell carcinomas that resembled ordinary skin tags. “There are rare cases where skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and even melanoma, can mimic a skin tag,” says dermatologist Avnee Shah, MD. “Going to a board-certified dermatologist assures a trained eye is examining the lesion and determining the risk of a more harmful condition masquerading as a skin tag.” To be safe, if any tag is growing, changing color, or bleeding and itching, it’s definitely time to see an expert. Find out 6 surprising signs of disease your skin can reveal.
First, the good news: Skin tags are benign and cause no symptoms. These harmless growths of skin can be right on the skin surface or seem to sprout from a thin stalk of skin and hang off the body. Also called cutaneous tags, soft fibromas, acrochordons, and fibroepithelial polyps, skin tags are mostly flesh-colored growths, although some may be darker in color.
Aside from genetic predisposition, UV exposure causes most moles to develop. This provides you with the opportunity to minimize your risk of new moles by practicing healthy sun habits. Moles result from all UV exposure, not just from a sunburn or excessive time in the sun. To minimize the chance that sun damage will cause new moles – or skin cancer – to develop on your body use broad-spectrum sunscreen on a daily basis, and avoid indoor tanning.
Mole removal surgery and recovery generally is simple. If the depth of the mole merits an excision, stitches are used for closure and are left in for approximately one week. If the mole is superficial, it may be shaved, and no stitch will be required. In these cases, the mole removal site will form a scab that will fall off within a week. Once the scab comes off, the underling area is usually a pink or reddish color, which may take several weeks to blend in with the surrounding skin. Regardless of the technique used for mole removal, the area should be kept clean and protected from the sun with a high SPF.
Skin cancers occur when skin cells undergo malignant transformations and grow into tumors. The most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are highly curable when they are diagnosed and treated early. Sun exposure, tanning beds, depressed immune system, radiation exposure, and certain viral infections are risk factors for skin cancer. Skin cancers are treated with surgery or radiation. The prognosis of nonmelanoma skin cancers is generally very good.
There is no evidence that removing a skin tag will cause more tags to grow. There is no expectation of causing skin tags to "seed" or spread by removing them. In reality, some people are simply more prone to developing skin tags and may have new growths periodically. Some individuals request periodic removal of tags at annual or even quarterly intervals.

You shouldn’t experience any severe pain as the area heals, but you might deal with soreness or itching, Dr. Conrad says. Regardless of the type of mole removal you had, your doctor should instruct you on how to keep the area as clean and soothed as possible. For patients without stitches, Dr. Goldenberg recommends running a mixture of water and gentle soap over the wound at least once a day, gently patting it dry, then applying a thick ointment like petroleum jelly or an anti-bacterial cream before putting on a fresh adhesive bandage.


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While it is true that skin tags often show up in the armpit or neck creases, the skin-on-skin friction is not what’s to blame. Rather, it’s the creases and skin folds that produce a friendly environment for a virus that may cause some skin tags. According to Ben Johnson, MD, founder of holistic beauty brand Osmosis Skincare, “Viruses are much more commonly spread through contact than people realize, but they don’t find the skin an easy place to survive. Creases improve their chances, and on rare occasions, one makes it into the follicle and infects local skin DNA to create skin tags.”


There are a few at-home skin tag removal kit options you can pick up from pharmacies - some products are designed to freeze small skin tags, others involve wrapping small rubber bands around the skin tag to cut off the blood supply, and we’ve also seen ones where you apply a solution to the tag and cover it in a bandaid to hinder the supply of oxygen.
There are currently five conventional skin tag treatments used by dermatologists, depending on the size, location and condition of the skin. Discuss all options thoroughly with your health care provider to determine how to get rid of skin tags that are causing you distress. Remember, as they are generally not considered a medical condition, chances are your health insurance will not cover the removal options listed here. You likely will be required to pay out-of-pocket for these procedures.
Lemon juice is a powerful antiseptic, and it also contains citric acid which helps to dry out skin tags by decomposing the cells. Take a half of fresh lemon and apply the juice to a cotton ball. Apply this directly to the skin tag and leave it on without washing it off. You can apply this up to three times a day and continue the routine until the skin tag falls off.
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