Skin tags are very common. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, scientists guess that almost half of all adults experience them. Luckily, they’re also mostly painless. But how do you get rid of skin tags without calling your doc?
These noncancerous growths can appear anywhere on your body. But they’re fondest of hanging out in places where your skin folds (think armpits, groin, thighs, and eyelids).
As harmless as they might be, skin tags can also be annoying and snag on clothing. Many adults also want to remove their skin tags for cosmetic reasons.
You can remove skin tags at home — but some DIY tips on how to get rid of skin tags aren’t exactly the best advice (never, ever cut them off). ⛔️ ✂️ ⛔️
Treating skin tags at home
There’s no surefire way to remove skin tags at home. But many over-the-counter (OTC) and natural options might work.
To remove skin tags on your own, you can try using an OTC bandage, patch, or freezing kit. But they might not always be effective.
And only anecdotal evidence supports the idea that tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, and iodine help tags fall off.
Never try cutting off your own skin tags, as it can lead to infection or bleeding.
We worked out the safest and surest ways to remove your skin tags.
While small skin tags will usually rub off on their own, most stay attached to your skin. For the most part, though, they come off pretty easily.
Still, you should always consult your doctor before attempting to remove a skin tag on your own. If the removal isn’t successful, it can lead to burning, scarring, bleeding, irritation, or infection.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, there’s no solid evidence that these at-home skin tag removal methods will be successful. But some are safer to try than others. And others do work, just not all the time.
We’ve graded these possible home remedies for skin tags as follows:
- ✅ = safe to try and most likely to be effective
- 🤷🏾♀️. = no proof that it works but (relatively) safe to try
- ❌. = ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!!!
1. Bands and patches
A skin tag removal band works by cutting off your supply of blood to the base of your skin tag. The idea is that without that blood, those cells die and your tag falls off in a process called ligation.
The patches contain medication. You leave them on a tag for a few days or weeks. Eventually (and hopefully), your tag falls off.
It’s important to note that skin tag bands and patches do not need approval from the FDA. They may not be as effective as the packaging claims.
The verdict on skin tag bands and patches
(You can give this a try, but not all products will do what they say on the tin.)
Skin tag removal creams are also available OTC and can be effective. You apply the cream to your skin tag at least twice a day for a few weeks. Over time, it should dry out your tag, so it falls off.
Just be sure to read what’s in the bottle/tub. Manufacturers make some of these creams with ingredients like salicylic acid and tea tree oil. Spoiler alert: These could end up irritating your skin.
The verdict on skin tag creams
(But be ready for some irritation if the product you use has salicylic acid or tea tree oil.)
3. Freezing kits
Skin tag freezing kits are basically an at-home version of cryotherapy. A dermatologist might also perform this procedure to remove skin tags (so you’re in good company).
The at-home kits use freezing spray to get rid of your skin tag. While this may be effective, you have to be careful when you use them.
Be careful not to get the freezing spray on your surrounding skin, which can be tricky. You might also need to use the kit a few times before your skin tag comes off.
The verdict on skin tag freezing kits
(But be very careful when you use them. And it might not be a one-time Hail Mary.)
4. Tea tree oil
This essential oil might help some skin conditions. But there is no reliable evidence that it will get rid of skin tags.
Using tea tree oil on sensitive skin: Avoid your eyes
There is no scientific evidence that tea tree oil can effectively remove skin tags.
Those who have sensitive skin or who are trying to remove a skin tag in their eye area should not try using tea tree oil at home.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, some people who use tea tree oil experience skin irritation and contact dermatitis.
Since your eye area has more sensitive skin, you should never put tea tree oil there.
To use tea tree oil on a skin tag:
- Apply a few drops of the oil to a cotton ball.
- Place it over your skin tag with a bandage.
- Leave it on for at least 10 minutes three times a day.
It might take a few days or weeks before your tag falls off.
The verdict on treating skin tags with tea tree oil
(There’s no evidence that it works. And, definitely don’t get it anywhere near your eyes.)
5. Apple cider vinegar
- Soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar.
- Two or three times every day, place the cotton ball over your tag with a bandage for 10 minutes.
- Wait a few days or weeks for your tag to potentially fall off.
Keep in mind that apple cider vinegar is acidic and can cause skin irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin. It can lead to chemical burns, and you shouldn’t ever apply it to the area around your eyes.
The verdict on apple cider vinegar
(You can try it safely. But there’s no high quality evidence to support its use even though it has worked for some people. And, it’s an irritant — Keep. It. Away. From. Your. Peepers.)
Only anecdotal evidence backs up the use of liquid iodine to remove skin tags. If you want to try it:
- Protect your surrounding skin with petroleum jelly or coconut oil.
- Soak a Q-tip in iodine, then spread the liquid over your tag.
- Cover your tag with a bandage while it dries.
You can try this twice a day until your tag falls off.
The verdict on iodine for removing skin tags
(Try it. If it works, it works.)
7. Cutting or clipping your tag
It might seem like the most obvious thing to do is to cut or clip off a skin tag using a sharp blade. However, many strongly recommend against doing this.
The American Academy of Dermatology cautions that cutting off a skin tag by yourself can lead to a severe infection. It can also be easy to nick a blood vessel.
Cutting off a skin tag on your own can be painful and might lead to significant bleeding – especially if your tag is on the larger side.
The verdict on clipping a skin tag
No, no, no, no, no, no, f*cking no.
8. Leave it to fall off
It might not be the fastest approach. But you can always leave your skin tag until it falls off by itself. However, this could take some time, and it’s not even guaranteed to happen. Some skin tags do not fall off on their own.
Still, it’s important to remember that skin tags are harmless and are not going to lead to any further complications down the road, so it’s fine to leave them.
The verdict on leaving skin tags to fall off
(Skin tags often fall off without intervention. If it’s not bugging you, just leave it. But it doesn’t always happen. And when it does, it can take a long time.)
It’s up to you whether you call a doctor about skin tags that aren’t getting in your way or rubbing against your clothes. Avoid at-home removal if your skin tags are:
- near your eyes
- near your genitals
- very large or long
You might also have confused a skin tag with a mole. If you can’t work out which it is, seek consultation before attempting to remove it.
Doctors can use medical treatments to remove skin tags faster and more effectively than you might be able to at home (which is fine — it’s not a competition). They might suggest one of the following procedures to remove your tag.
During this process, a doctor will burn away your skin tag. 🔥 Cauterization slams the door on infectious bacteria by also closing off the area that was burned. But it may take a few treatments before your tag falls off.
Cryotherapy is the opposite of cauterization. 🥶 Doctors use liquid nitrogen to freeze off your tag. This is typically effective after just one or two treatments.
A healthcare provider ties surgical thread around your tag to reduce its blood supply. 🧵 This means that it will fall off over time. Ligation is the medical version of a skin tag bandage.
In this procedure, a doctor will use a sharp blade to cut off your tag. ⚔️
Is skin tag removal covered by medical insurance?
This can vary depending on your provider and type of insurance. But for the most part, insurers generally exclude skin tag removal from cover as a cosmetic procedure.
You may have to pay out of pocket. It’s best to speak with your insurer about their policy on skin tags.
Skin tags are harmless and extremely common.
However, many adults choose to remove them for cosmetic purposes. At-home skin tag removal can involve bandages, patches, and freezing kits that may not be effective.
Only anecdotal evidence supports the use of apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, or iodine.
The best way to get rid of skin tags is to have a medical professional remove them using techniques like cryotherapy or cauterization.