The root cause of skin tags is still unknown. However, they’re thought to be related to friction or skin rubbing against skin. This could explain why they’re often found in areas where the skin creases or rubs together, such as the neck, groin, and underarms.
They are more common in people who are overweight or have diabetes. This could be because excess weight puts additional strain on the skin, leading to friction and subsequent skin tags.
Skin tags are relatively common compared to other minor skin disorders like seborrheic keratoses (See FAQs on seborrheic keratoses). It’s estimated that 50 to 60% of all adults will develop at least one skin tag in their lifetime.
How to Remove Skin Tags
There are a number of ways to remove skin tags, but some are more effective than others.
- Home remedies: Some people opt for home remedies to remove their skin tags. This includes using over-the-counter treatments, such as wart removers. However, you should note that these products are not specifically designed for skin tag removal and can cause irritation or other side effects.
- Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy is a treatment that uses freezing temperatures to destroy tissue. It’s sometimes used to remove warts but can also be effective for skin tags. During cryotherapy, the skin tag is exposed to extremely cold liquid nitrogen. This causes the tissue to freeze and eventually fall off.
- Cautery: Cautery is a process that uses heat to destroy tissue. An electric current passes through a metal rod to create heat, which is then used to cauterize the skin tag. This process destroys the tissue and causes it to fall off.
- Ligation: Ligation is a process that involves tying off the blood supply to the skin tag. This can be done with a surgical thread or other types of string. Once the blood supply has been cut off, the skin tag will eventually fall off on its own.
- Surgery: Surgery is usually reserved for larger skin tags that are difficult to remove with other methods. Your physician will make a tiny incision in your skin and remove the skin tag. Like dermatofibroma surgery and other skin problem surgeries, skin tag removal surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia.
Home Remedies to Remove Skin Tags
People use some popular home remedies to remove skin tags, but there’s no scientific evidence to support their effectiveness. Some of the usual home remedies include:
- Cutting off the skin tag with sharp scissors or a razor
- Applying a mixture of baking soda and water
- Burning the skin tag off with a cauterizing device
- Dabbing the skin tag with wart remover
- Applying caustic substances, such as apple cider vinegar, to the skin tag
- Freezing the skin tag with ice
When to See a Doctor
In most cases, skin tags don’t require medical attention and can be safely removed at home. However, you should see a doctor if:
- Your skin tag forms in an area where it’s constantly being irritated by clothing or jewelry
- You have diabetes or another condition causing changes in your skin.
- You notice signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus.
- You have a skin cancer family history.
If you’re unsure whether a growth on your skin is a skin tag or something else, it’s always safe to see a doctor for an evaluation.
Ensure to choose an experienced surgeon, such as Toronto Minor Surgery Center (TMSC), to avoid complications. TMC also offers other minor surgeries, including pyogenic granuloma. Visit Toronto Minor Surgery Center pyogenic granuloma page to learn more.
Having surgery to remove a skin tag is usually a last resort. If you’re considering this option, talk to your doctor first to make sure it’s the best decision for you. There are also a few home remedies people use to remove skin tags, but there’s no scientific evidence to support their effectiveness.
In most cases, skin tags don’t cause any symptoms and don’t require medical attention. However, you should see a specialist if the skin tag is located in an area where it’s constantly irritated or if you have diabetes or another condition that causes changes in your skin.