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Skin tags are a common dermatologic problem and appear as soft, small pieces of extra skin hanging above the surface by a stalk. These are generally found on the upper trunk, body folds, armpits, and neck.
Skin tags are rarely a cause for concern and only need to be treated if they cause discomfort due to their position or if you are bothered by their appearance.
Home Remedies for Skin Tags
While you should visit a doctor if you develop bumps that are hard to the touch, the following home remedies can help manage soft and small skin tags.
1. Apply apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) possesses antimicrobial properties (1) that help destroy the excess tissue forming the skin tag without affecting the surrounding skin.
How to use:
- Clean the blemish with a mild soap solution and pat dry.
- Use a clean toothpick to gently scratch the tag without making it bleed.
- Soak a cotton ball with ACV and wring out the excess.
- Place the cotton ball over the skin tag and cover with a bandage overnight.
- Remove the bandage and wash the affected area with water.
- Repeat treatment for 3–4 days until the skin tag turns dark in color, dries, and falls off.
2. Dab some tea tree oil
Tea tree oil also possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties (2) that can help in the prompt removal of skin tags.
How to use:
- Wash the affected area with water and pat dry.
- Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil in any carrier oil such as coconut oil.
- Use a cotton swab to apply this solution to the skin tags and cover with a clean cloth.
- Leave it overnight and wash in the morning.
- You can apply the diluted oil 3–4 times a day until the skin tag dries out.
3. Use an over-the-counter freezing kit
Over-the-counter freezing kits consist of a spray that can help destroy the skin tag. The procedure is similar to that used by dermatologists, however not as effective. (3)
4. Apply garlic paste
Garlic acts as an antifungal and antimicrobial agent for the treatment of skin tags. (4) It may have a small strong smell, but it is highly effective.
How to use:
- Crush a couple of garlic cloves until it forms a smooth paste.
- Apply the paste over the skin tags and cover with a cotton pad.
- Secure it with a bandage and leave it overnight.
- Repeat the process for 2–3 days until the skin tags disappear.
5. Try banana peels
Banana peels are rich in antiaging compounds that can help clear skin tags effectively and have lasting results.
How to use:
- Clean the skin tag with mild soap and pat dry.
- Place the banana peel with the white side down on the skin tag and cover with a bandage.
- Allow it to heal overnight.
- Repeat the procedure until the skin tag falls off.
Note: Avoid using home remedies if the skin tags are present in the genital area or around the eye, are large, or cause pain and irritation. Consult your doctor instead.
What Not to Do
While the above-mentioned home remedies may prove to be effective in removing skin tags, people are often seen mimicking medical procedures at home for a quick solution.
Procedures such as the following should be completely avoided as they can worsen the condition and can lead to complications:
1. Use of nail clippers
Refrain from using nail clippers to cut off your skin tags as it can cause bleeding, increase the risk of infection, and lead to scar development.
2. Shaving off the skin tag
While it may seem to be an easy solution, shaving off your skin tag can cause heavy bleeding and pain.
3. Tying the stalk with strings
Some people tie a thread or dental floss around the stalk of the skin tag to cut off its blood supply. However, this can cause prolonged pain and discomfort.
Preventing Skin Tags
The following tips can help prevent the formation of skin tags:
- Clean all skin folds thoroughly and apply powder to soak up sweat and thus prevent friction.
- Avoid using any jewelry or clothing that irritates the skin.
- Consume a diet low in calories and saturated fats.
- Exercise daily.
- Refrain from using tight clothes. Rather, wear breathable fabrics such as cotton.
- Control your diabetes.
Most-Asked Questions About Skin Tags
Can skin tags lead to health problems?
Skin tags are generally harmless and only cause irritation if they get caught in clothing or jewelry. These nonpainful growths are benign and thus do not indicate cancer.
Can skin tags spread through contact?
Skin tags are noncontagious, and no research suggests that they spread through contact.
Can a wart remover help manage skin tags?
Multiple skin tag and wart removers claim to help remove skin tags, but it is best to avoid their use.
At-home removal of skin tags can increase the chances of scarring and infection. Consult a doctor before trying any such product.
Can toothpaste help remove skin tags?
Although the use of toothpaste for skin tag removal is popular, it is extremely harsh on the skin. The high menthol content of toothpaste can irritate the skin.
Moreover, the application of toothpaste renders the skin dry and flaky. It is best to use other effective and safe remedies such as those mentioned above.
The appearance of skin tags, while harmless, may be bothersome to a few people. You can try home remedies to get rid of them, or contact your doctor for the same.
Since the exact cause of skin tag development is not known, it is hard to prevent their formation.
Always consult your doctor if the excessive growth is large, causes pain, or is bleeding, as it may not be a skin tag.