Our skin is our largest organ, and it’s the one the outside world gets to see. All of us have dealt with skin issues in our lives, from acne to rashes. There is one skin problem, however, that most of us will inevitably have to deal with as we age – skin tags.
Skin tags are growths on the skin that often occur in older adults and are thought to form from the friction of skin rubbing against skin (1). There’s a lot of debate around whether or not skin tags should be removed – the short answer is no, most of the time skin tags are harmless (1). But they can often cause irritation, so many people opt to get rid of them. If you’re considering removing your skin tags, the question you should be asking is how to do so safely.
Why Do Skin Tags Show Up in Certain Areas?
The Pros and Cons of 4 Skin Tag Removal Methods
1. Over-The-Counter Skin Tag Removers
If you’re someone who likes to save money and wants to avoid a doctor’s visit, over-the-counter skin tag removal treatments are a great option! The most common over-the-counter treatments for skin tags are creams containing salicylic acid (2). These creams contain a low dosage of salicylic acid so you can rest easy knowing this treatment is safe to use (2).
One downside to over-the-counter skin tag removal treatments is that they may not work for everyone (2). Oftentimes, you’ll have to go through a trial and error period to see which one works for you. Luckily, we do have access to customer reviews these days so some of the guesswork may be eliminated.
2. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is an effective remedy for many skin problems, including skin tags. Tea tree oil is one of the best methods to use because it’s safe, it doesn’t leave behind scars, and it doesn’t irritate the skin (2)! Unfortunately, there are no official studies that have proven the effectiveness of tea tree oil when treating skin tags (5). But hey, there’s no harm in trying!
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an inexpensive and easily accessible treatment you can use to get rid of skin tags. The acidity of the vinegar can help remove skin tags as it breaks down tissue surrounding skin tags causing them to fall off (6). Be careful when using this method – full strength apple cider vinegar may irritate your eyes or cause burns on your skin (7). Like other natural remedies, this method also hasn’t been scientifically proven to work (6).
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4. Visit a Dermatologist
If you have a particularly large skin tag, you may want to consider removing it through cryotherapy, which is a freezing procedure (3). During this procedure, the dermatologist will apply liquid nitrogen to the skin tag and in 20-30 seconds it’ll be gone (3)! The downside to this method is that because liquid nitrogen is so cold, it may feel uncomfortable (3). This treatment is also pretty pricey compared to at-home treatments (3).
The other method used by dermatologists to remove skin tags is cutting them off surgically. The advantage of this method is that the skin tag will be removed completely (4). There is, however, a risk of bleeding and infection (5). Again, this treatment is on the more expensive side.
Because you’re visiting a professional when going to the dermatologist, you have the benefit of knowing that the removal will be done safely and effectively. They even inspect removed skin tags afterward to ensure they are cancer-free (8).
Dr. Rossi, a dermatologic surgeon, explains the reasons why people should opt for treatment by a professional best. Referring to at home treatments, Dr. Rossi stated, “It’s like when people try to cut their own hair. It never goes the way they want it to. There could be unintended consequences.” (8). If you can afford to go to a dermatologist, do it. The peace of mind really is worth the price!
Skin tags are one of the many bodily changes we have to deal with as we age. Thankfully, they are fairly easy to treat and there are many treatment options available! Read this next to learn more about lifestyle changes you can make to get rid of your skin tags.
(1) Cutaneous skin tag. (2017, August 26). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000848.htm
(2) Over the Counter Wart, Skin Tag & Mole Removal: Cure, Treatment. (2018, March 31). Retrieved from https://skintagsremoving.com/over-the-counter-wart-skin-tag-mole-removal-cure-treatment/
(3) Freezing Skin Tags – Skin Tag Clinic (2016, January 13). Retrieved from http://skintagclinic.com/freezing-skin-tags/
(4) Skin Tags (2016, November 23). Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/skin-tags/
(5) The Secret Behind Using Tea Tree Oil for Skin Tags. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://skinoverhaul.com/secret-behind-using-tea-tree-oil-skin-tags/
(6) O’Keefe Osborn, C. (2018, March 1). Can Apple Cider Vinegar Remove Skin Tags? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/apple-cider-vinegar-for-skin-tags
(7) Adams, A. (2017, August 14). How to Remove Skin Tags With Vinegar. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/116919-baking-soda-water-remove/
(8) Laliberte, M. (n.d.). This Is the ONLY Way You Should Remove Skin Tags, According to a Dermatologist. Retrieved from https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/skin-tags-removal/
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