Clipping Skin Tags: How to Remove Them Safely

Why you should see a provider instead of cutting skin tags off yourself

Most skin tags (acrochordon) don't need to be removed for health reasons. Still, many people choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons, or, for example, if the skin tag rubs against their clothes.

Don't try to cut off a skin tag yourself at home. The safest, most effective way to remove a skin tag is to have your healthcare provider take care of it.

This article covers how healthcare providers clip skin tags. It also lists some do-it-yourself methods that you may have heard about, and what you should know if you are thinking about trying them.

What Are Skin Tags?

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Skin Tags
 DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

Skin tags are small, soft skin growths that form when the skin rubs against itself. Skin tags can be anywhere on the body, but they tend to be located near skin folds, such as the neck, underarms, torso, eyelids, and inner thighs.

Skin tags are either dark or flesh-colored. They are usually about two to five millimeters in size, but can grow up to half an inch. They are usually painless but can become irritated if they catch on clothing or jewelry.

Nobody knows why skin tags form, though some risk factors have been identified, including:

  • Hormone imbalances
  • Being overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy, possibly due to hormone changes
  • Certain infections, particularly human papilloma virus (HPV)
  • Genetics
  • Older age

Skin tags can sometimes be confused with warts, neurofibromas, or nevi (moles). But by simply looking at the skin growth, your healthcare provider should be able to tell whether it is a skin tag or something else.

Skin tags are benign (non-cancerous). The vast majority of them do not require a biopsy.

Why It's Not Safe to Clip a Skin Tag Yourself

Whenever you cut your skin, you risk damaging the tissue and creating a route for infection to get in.

It's unlikely that anyone has the sterile environment, proper tools, and medical know-how to remove a skin tag safely at home.

Healthcare providers, of course, do. They can also examine the skin tag to make sure it's not something else. What you think could be a skin tag could, in fact, be another skin condition—even skin cancer.

And if you're overweight, have skin tags, and haven't seen a doctor in some time, your provider may not only remove your skin tags but test (and, if necessary, treat) you for diabetes.

How Professionals Remove Skin Tags

Providers can remove skin tags in a few ways:

  • Clipping: A provider can use a pair of iris scissors to snip off a small skin tag. No lidocaine or local anesthesia is needed.
  • Shave excision: A provider can shave off a larger skin tag. Local anesthesia is applied first.
  • Cryotherapy: A provider can freeze the tag off by dipping a pair of forceps into liquid nitrogen and grabbing the lesion until it turns white. Because of how quick it is, this option works well for those with a lot of skin tags.
  • Electrodesiccation: A provider can dry out the skin tag by applying an electrical current. It can be used for skin tags that are too small to be grabbed with forceps.

A skin tag might bleed when it's removed. To stop bleeding from a skin tag, a provider can use a cotton tip applicator that contains aluminum chloride.

They will also ensure that the area is properly cleaned before and after to prevent infection, and may give you care instructions for covering for protecting the wound until it is healed.

At-Home Skin Tag Removal Methods

Instead of cutting off a skin tag yourself, there are some home remedies that some people have used in an attempt to make skin tags go away.

You can ask your provider if it would be safe to try these methods at home. Just know that there's no guarantee they'll work.

  • Patches: Pharmacies and big box stores often carry over-the-counter products that claim to remove skin tags. Skin tag removal patches are made with ingredients that tend to dry out skin or exfoliate dead skin. Some patches don't have any of these ingredients and work by applying pressure instead.
  • Bands: Similar to a patch that puts pressure on a skin tag, bands wrap around the tag and cut off its blood supply. If it's not getting blood, the tissue will die. When this happens, the tag may fall off.
  • Creams: Some of the ingredients in patches also come in creams, ointments, or serums. The products may also be used to remove warts. If you're sensitive to the ingredients in these products, even if they're meant to be used on the skin, it can cause irritation.
  • Freezing: You can get OTC kits to "freeze off" warts and skin tags. Most of these products use different strengths of salicylic acid.
  • Oils: More "natural" approaches to skin tag removal use tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, vitamin E, and even iodine to dry the tag out in hopes it will fall off. There hasn't been much research evidence that these methods will work.
  • Food: Another way to try to remove a skin tag without medicine is putting antioxidant-rich foods like garlic or a banana peel on the skin tag, covering it with a bandage, and letting it sit overnight. No studies have proven these methods to work.

Just because it's natural, doesn't mean it's safe. For example, if you are treating a skin tag on your eyelid, keep in mind that many essential oils are not safe to use near your eyes.


Although you may figure that removing skin tags is as simple as grabbing a pair of scissors from the cupboard drawer, it isn't.

First, skin tags should be removed by a trained healthcare professional who can do so in a sterile environment. Second, skin tags often accompany diabetes, a much more serious problem that requires medical evaluation.

A Word From Verywell

Many insurers refuse to cover the cost of skin tag removal because the procedure is done for aesthetic reasons. There are some exceptions, however, such as if a skin tag has become infected.

If you are enrolled in a plan, be sure to speak with your insurance company before scheduling an appointment to have skin tags taken off.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can cutting skin tags cause cancer?

    Skin tags are made of harmless tissue, so cutting a skin tag or otherwise removing it will not cause cancer. However, it's possible to mistake a potentially cancerous skin lesion (like a mole) for a simple skin tag. That's why you should have a provider look at any skin mark or blemish that is concerning.

  • Do skin tags grow back?

    After your provider removes a skin tag, it won't grow back. However, that doesn't mean another one won't grow in its place. Certain parts of your body might be more sensitive and more likely to get skin tags than others.

  • What if a skin tag turns black?

    Skin tags can vary in color from being the same shade as your skin to a darker shade. If a skin tag turns black, brown, or purple it could mean that it isn't getting a good supply of blood. If you notice a color change, it's best to have your provider take a look.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Penn Medicine. The skinny on skin tags: 6 questions and answers.

  2. University of Miami Health System. Skin tags are annoying, but harmless.

  3. Coakley A, Wu M, Kumar J. A comparison of ferric subsulfate solution, silver nitrate, and aluminum chloride for pain assessment, time to hemostasis, and cosmesis in acrochordon snip excision. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2020 Dec;13(12):32-37.

  4. Harvard Medicine. Skin tag removal: Optional but effective.

  5. Jennifer Baron, MD. What's the Difference Between a Mole and a Skin Tag and How Do I Get Rid of Them?.

Additional Reading

By Naveed Saleh, MD, MS
Naveed Saleh, MD, MS, is a medical writer and editor covering new treatments and trending health news.