Skin tags are small, harmless pieces of skin that may have a peduncle (stalk). They look like a small, soft piece of hanging skin. They can appear virtually on any part of the body, but normally exist in the areas where skin rubs up against other skin. Typical areas where they can appear are:
- Under the breasts
- In the groin area
- On the upper chest
- The groin
Skin tags are characteristically small, benign, non-cancerous tumors of the skin that don’t exhibit any type of symptoms. They are also known as an acrochordon.
A person generally doesn’t notice a skin tag until they have been scratched or rubbed off which can cause pain or discomfort. However, in some cases, depending on the location of the skin tag, they can cause irritation or pain or may not be aesthetically pleasing to you. Over 46% of the population experience incidences of skin tags. Some people are pre-disposed to the condition.
There are many options available to help you remove a skin tag. Most of them depend on the size and location of the skin tag. Most health insurance companies won’t pay to have a skin tag removed by a doctor (as it is not health threatening). Some skin tags can simply fall off by themselves. If the skin tag is bothering you and affecting how you feel about yourself, you can try one of the following options.
- Ligation: Tie off the tag at its base with dental floor or string. Leave it on for a few days. This will cut the blood supply off to the skin tag, ultimately resulting in it falling off
- Excision: Remove the tag with scissors or a scalpel (be sure to sterilize the scissors first!)
- Cauterization: Burn the tag with cauterization tool or electro-desiccation
- Cryosurgery: Freezing the tag with liquid nitrogen
If any of these methods feel or sound invasive, there are many less invasive, homeopathic, do it yourself treatments – albeit time consuming –that may be worth it to you.
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil is one of the best and most effective home remedies for skin tags. Soak a cotton ball in water, apply at least 2-3 drops of the tea tree oil to the cotton ball and lightly rub the skin tag in a circular motion. If you do this twice a day, you should see the skin tag disappear within a week.
- Apple cider vinegar: Soak a cotton ball in the apple cider vinegar and apply to the skin tag. This should remove the tag within a month.
- Nail polish: Apply clear nail polish to the skin tag (avoid the skin surrounding it) 2-3 times daily. The skin tag should fall off within a week.
- Duct tape: Stick a small piece of duct tape to the skin tag for about 10-12 days until the skin tag falls off.
Please do not perform any of the above if the skin tag is near your eye. Allow an ophthalmologist to safely remove the tag. There are also over the counter solutions that can be purchased at your local drug store that are similar to wart removal products. The skin tag is frozen over a series of days and you can expect to see the skin tag disappear or fall off after 7-10 days.
In addition, there is no scientific evidence that removing a skin tag will encourage more to grow. Please see your health care provider if you have any question if what you have is a skin tag. Some skin tags look similar to some types of skin cancer, when removed the malignant cells can spread throughout the area and into the body.