Skin tags: What are they and how to get rid of them

Nov 23, 2019
Although safe, home remedies for skin tag removal may not be as effective as other treatment options. Source: Getty

Skins tags are super common, especially in older people, yet many people don’t know why skin tags form or how they can be treated.

Skin tags can appear anywhere on your body, though they’re commonly found on the neck, armpits, around the groin, or under the breasts. They can also vary in colour and size. It’s not clear what causes them, but friction may play a role, since they usually show up in skin folds.

While anyone can develop skin tags, they’re more common in older adults and people who are overweight or have diabetes. Studies suggest they may also be genetic.

Although they don’t typically cause pain or discomfort, they can be embarrassing – particularly if they form in highly visible areas of the body such as the face or neck. There are plenty of ways to get rid of skin tags, but unfortunately, not all treatments work the same.

Dr Zlatko Kopecki, from the University of Australia, told Starts at 60 that one form of treatment to be weary of is home remedies.

“There are a number of home remedies suggested for skin tags, and while safe, most of them are not very effective,” he said.  “All of these remedies work on the principle of drying the skin tag so it falls off.”

Common home remedies include tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar or even tying a piece of string around a tag until it falls off.

“Some even suggest garlic, although I wouldn’t try that,” Kopecki added.

Similar to home remedies, there are also a number of over-the-counter products available.

“My advice would be to see a GP,” Kopecki said. “As incorrect use can cause inflammation or a burning sensation to surrounding skin, while incorrect removal can lead to bleeding and creation of a wound.”

There are a number of ways a skin tag can be removed by a professional, including cauterization, where heat is used to remove the growth from the body.

Surgery is another option, where the skin tag is simply snipped at the base. Depending on the size of the skin tag and where it’s located, this might not be an option.

However, the most common and effective way is cryosurgery, which can be performed by a GP. This process uses extreme cold, usually from liquid nitrogen, to freeze the skin tag off.

If concerned about a skin tag, it’s always recommended to chat to a GP before undertaking home remedies or over-the-counter products. This will ensure the correct treatment option is offered to prevent the possibility of unnecessary injury.

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.

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Have you ever had a skin tag? What methods did you use to remove it?

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