Skin Tag Removal: Do It Yourself or See a Professional?

There are many risks associated with at-home skin tag removal

Skin tags (acrochordons) are harmless, noncancerous skin growths. Skin tag removal is possible, and some may opt for it simply because a growth is bothersome or they don't like the look of it. But skin tag removal is not always necessary.

There are several suggestions on how to remove skin tags on your own, and some (though not all) may work. Still, it's best to have a skin tag looked at by a skin specialist called a dermatologist. They can make sure the growth really is a skin tag, as opposed to skin cancer or another type of lesion, and remove the skin tag safely.

This article goes over what you should know about removing skin tags. You'll learn about the options for removing a skin tag at home as well as professional skin tag removal.

how to remove skin tags at home

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Reasons to Remove Skin Tags

Even if a skin tag does not hurt or cause discomfort, it can be an annoyance for other reasons, including:

  • It gets caught on clothing or jewelry
  • It occasionally bleeds
  • You don't like how they look

At-Home Skin Tag Removal Methods

There are many different DIY methods for skin tag removal. The evidence on whether they work is mixed.

Some of these can be tried without concern for side effects, if you're interested in seeing if they work for you. But others do pose risks and should be avoided.

Regardless, the biggest concern with these suggestions overall lies in that you would be using them on your own without getting a proper evaluation by a professional. You may be self-treating a skin tag that isn't actually a skin tag.

Bothersome skin tags in particularly delicate areas like near the eyes, genitalia, or anus should always be removed by a healthcare practitioner. Also be sure you see a practitioner if the growth is not one solid color, it bleeds, is painful, or grows quickly. These are not characteristics of a skin tag.

Toothpaste

Sometimes, people claim that using toothpaste can remove a skin tag. However, these claims are anecdotal. There is no scientific evidence that supports the method.

Skin Tag Removal Bands

Skin tag removal bands are also called ligation. With this method, a band is wrapped around the stem of the skin tag and cuts off the blood supply.

When it stops getting blood, the skin tag's cells will die. Once this happens, the skin tag can be twisted or pulled off.

Ligation should be performed by a dermatologist. Using skin tag removal bands yourself poses the risk of infection, bleeding, scarring, and only partial removal of the skin tag, which can result in it growing back.

Skin Tag Patch

You may see over-the-counter (OTC) skin tag patches at your local pharmacy. Most look like round stickers.

You apply a patch over your skin tag. After leaving it on for a period of time, you remove it and the skin tag is supposed to come off as well.

However, there is not enough evidence that this method works. It can also cause skin irritation.

Skin Tag Removal Cream

Creams made with tea tree oil and salicylic acid are said to help remove skin tags, but these ingredients can actually be irritating to the skin.

In fact, skin tag cream can cause a type of skin inflammation called contact dermatitis.

Freezing

OTC freezing kits contain chemicals that lower the temperature of the skin tag. The low temperature destroys the unwanted skin tissue. 

However, OTC kits do not lower the temperature enough to work. It may also take several applications before you see any results.

Dermatologists can use liquid nitrogen to get a lower skin temperature, making their freezing method more effective than OTC options.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Some people claim you can remove a skin tag by soaking a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and applying it to your skin with a small bandage.

It's said that the apple cider vinegar method can take two weeks to work, but there isn't much scientific proof that it's an effective way to remove a skin tag.

Tea Tree Oil

Similar to the apple cider vinegar method, some people claim that applying a cotton ball soaked in tea tree oil to a skin tag can remove it.

Again, people claim this method takes several weeks to work but the evidence is limited. Plus, some people can have allergic skin reactions to tea tree oil.

Put Down the Clippers

Never use nail clippers or a sharp instrument to cut skin tags off. A healthcare provider is trained to minimize scarring and control excessive bleeding, should it occur. They also disinfect the skin and sterilize their instruments to prevent infection.

Professional Skin Tag Removal

A healthcare provider has several options for removing skin tags, including:

  • Excision (surgical removal)
  • Cauterization (burning it off)
  • Cryosurgery (freezing it off)

Excision

With excision, a provider uses a sterile technique to cut the skin tag off. They use a scalpel (surgical blade) or surgical scissors to do this. These are much sharper than clippers or scissors you would use at home.

Generally, only smaller skin tags are removed this way.

A chemical compound can be applied after removal to reduce bleeding.

Cauterization

Cauterization is when a skin tag is burned off at its base. A provider can do this with an electrical probe or needle that produces an electric current.

This method of skin tag removal also seals the wound to prevent infection and bleeding. 

Cryosurgery

In cryosurgery, the skin tag is frozen with liquid nitrogen. It may burn when the provider applies it to your skin.

After cryosurgery, it takes approximately 10 days for the tag to fall off.

Will My Health Insurance Cover Skin Tag Removal?

Unless your skin tags are harming your physical or mental health, removing them is not usually covered by health insurance. A skin tag removal procedure is considered cosmetic, which means you will have to pay for it out of pocket.

Skin Tag Removal Aftercare

How you need to care for your skin after a skin tag is removed depends on the method used to remove it. You may be told to keep the area clean and dry. If so, wash it gently once or twice a day and pat dry.

If the skin tag was excised, you may be told to keep a bandage on it for several days. In some cases, you may be told to leave the wound uncovered instead. Your provider may also suggest applying an antibiotic ointment.

Larger wounds may need stitches. Your provider will tell you how to care for your stitches and wound. You'll usually need the keep the area clean and covered for the first 24 to 48 hours after the removal procedure.

If your skin tag was removed by cryosurgery or cauterization and the area rubs against your clothing, you may need to bandage it to prevent irritation.

After skin tag removal, avoid products that can slow healing such as:

  • Skin cleansers
  • Alcohol
  • Peroxide
  • Iodine
  • Antibacterial soap

Summary

Skin tags are usually harmless and do not need to be removed. However, if they are bothering you, you might want to remove them

Removing a skin tag on your own at home has risks, including bleeding, infection, and scarring. Having a professional do it can minimize the risks and ensure that the growth is not a more serious problem such as skin cancer.

A dermatologist can safely remove a skin tag with a scalpel or scissors, cauterization, or cryosurgery.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do skin tags grow back?

    Skin tags that are removed in full will not grow back. However, it's possible to get a new skin tag near where you had one before.

  • What causes skin tag growth?

    The cause of skin tags is unknown. That said, they often form in areas where there is skin-to-skin friction, like the armpits, groin or thighs, and under the breasts. Research has shown that that diabetes, human papillomavirus (HPV), and genetics may play a role in skin tag growth in some people.

  • How much does skin tag removal cost?

    Skin tag removal typically costs around $100. Health insurance plans usually will not cover skin tag removal unless it affects your physical or mental health.

  • Is natural skin tag removal effective?

    There are many home remedies for removing skin tags that are claimed to be effective, like applying apple cider vinegar or tea tree oil. However, there is not enough scientific evidence to support these methods.

8 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. MedlinePlus. Skin Tag.

  2. Harvard Health Publishing. Skin Tag Removal: Optional but Effective.

  3. The American Academy of Dermatology. 5 Reasons to See a Dermatologist for Mole, Skin Tag Removal.

  4. Mount Sinai. Skin Lesion Removal-Aftercare.

  5. Penn Medicine. The Skinny on Skin Tags.

  6. Cleveland Clinic. Skin Tags (Acrochordons).

  7. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Skin Tags.

  8. Intermountain Healthcare. Unsightly Skin Tags? How Your Doctor Can Help.

By Sherry Christiansen
Sherry Christiansen is a medical writer with a healthcare background. She has worked in the hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer's research.