Dermatologist’s Guide To Home Skin Tag Removal
Dr. Riciu

Dear readers, your search for the best skin tag removal method has finally come to an end. I am Dr. Riciu Nicolae Andrei – dermatologist practicing in central Europe. After seeing hundreds of patients with skin tags presenting to my clinic either not knowing what exactly their lesions were, in some cases even scared of skin cancer or just wanting their skin tags removed I decided to create this resource website where I will try to compile all the information needed for those of you who are seeking to understand the causes of these tissue growths, the possible complications, how to establish a correct diagnosis and ultimately to share with you the most useful OTC (over the counter) products and natural remedies you can use for skin tag removal from the comfort of your home, without having to pay up-front, consultation and outrageous treatment fees.

As a dermatologist or any other health care provider my time is limited and obviously I can only help patients with skin tags who present in my private medical practice. Considering the average waiting time for seeing a dermatologist in many countries around the world is 2 to 8 weeks, the removal procedure is not covered by most health insurances – the costs can trigger headaches taking into account the size of the problem, my aim here is to provide my readers with dermatologist grade quality information about their lesions and ultimately guide them towards the most effective removal methods for skin tags (we’ll detail those below), lack complications, and most important can be performed at home by the average Joe without too much hustle.

What Are Skin Tags

Skin tags are defined as small, soft, pedunculated and painless benign skin growths (they are not cancerous nor do they tend to progress to a more dangerous type of skin lesion) that resemble the normal skin. Apart from being not cosmetic appealing, in most cases they do not pose a threat to the general health with some exceptions that include infected or thrombosed ones.

They come in a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes and establishing a correct diagnosis is very easy to establish in most cases (see the dedicated image gallery for reference) In case you are still unsure just take a picture and head to the “ask Dr. Riciu form” and I will be more than happy to reply with a confirmation and product recommendation.

Removing them yourself at home is in my opinion the best cost-effective decision you could ever take. The methods which I will detail below (my skin tag removal methods include the ones with whom I have experience working with or are backed by reliable research papers) are guaranteed to work and most important lack major complications – who wants to remove a tiny skin tag and end up with a nasty scar or irritation?

Skin tag causes and risk factors

Risk Factors

  • It is common belief that the friction between vestimentary objects and skin,  skin to skin friction (most frequent in the natural folds of the body – armpit, groin) are a predisposing factor.
  • Moisture – Anatomical regions that are rich in sweat glands tend to be more affected than others by skin tags – these regions include the axilla, the groin, and the area located between the buttocks.
  • Metabolic syndrome and Diabetes : studies have demonstrated that patients with high levels of glucose in their bloodstream (hyperglycemia) tend to develop more skin tags than their and they also tend to grow more rapidly.
  • Chron’s disease (an inflammatory disease of the bowel) – lesions in the perineal region is in some cases associated with this particular disease.
  • Pregnancy – several studies have demonstrated a higher incidence of these kind of lesions in pregnant women. Lesions can be also triggered after giving birth.
  • Age – skin degeneration with age and changes like diminished number of collagen fibers.
  • Certain drugs such as corticosteroids (Prednisone) used to treat inflammation or synthetic steroids tend to increase the risk of developing skin tags with a higher incidence between body builders.
  • Gender – women tend to be more affected than men

Causes

  • As with many dermatological disorders, the exact cause for the formation of skin tags in not yet fully known nor understood.
  • Several studies have demonstrated that this condition tends to run in families. A genetic component can be identified in most cases.
  • Newer studies have linked a form of HPV (human papilloma virus) with soft fibromas formation thus hinting to a virus may be playing a role in their development. Although the HPV is not considered a cause for all these type of lesions (some patients with skin tags have negative blood tests for HPV) it is accepted that it can play a role in their formation. Only 48% of the lesions analyzed by the study were tested positive for HPV strain 6 and 11.

Skin Tags Medical Terms

Although many of you know them by the name above, in medical terms they are also known as:

  • Soft Fibromas
  • Molluscum Pendulum
  • Acrochordon with its plural – Acrochorda
  • Cutaneous papilloma
  • Papilloma colli
  • Cutaneous tag
  • Fibroma pendulum
  • Fibroma molluscum
  • Skin polyp

In most cases the above terms are equivalent and mean a benign form of skin tumor. Some authors differentiate between some forms but those cases are not of interest for the average reader. If it’s pedunculated and resembles the normal skin in 99% of the cases you got it right.

Skin Tags Diagnosis

Because the lesions are specific and usually do not resemble other skin conditions,  the diagnosis is quite easy to establish by a dermatologist and do not require any further tests or investigations. On the other hand as I stated above their presence can signal other health problems like impaired glucose levels. Performing a quick blood test for diabetes for overweight patients with skin tags is indeed recommended.

Self diagnosis.

First things first you should be sure that the lesions are not contained in the skin plane meaning they are represented by a skin growth of some kind. Skin tags are not flat and they grow out from the surrounding skin. The color variation varies from skin color to dark brown and even black in case thrombosis is present. Multiple colors within the same lesions can be also be observed in some patients due to pigment retention.

In case you have doubts regarding your lesions and because in rare exceptions these skin fibromas can resemble other skin conditions that imply benign growths like naevi (moles) or more serious conditions like nodular melanoma, you can always use the “Ask Dr. Riciu” form for help. Take a quality and focused picture of the problem and I will get back to you with an educated opinion and recommend you to see a doctor or not as soon as possible free of charge.

Skin Tags Prevention

Although once present on the skin there is no proven method or lifestyle change one can adopt to guarantee more do not emerge, there are ways to minimize this risk

  1. Wearing loose clothing and ensuring you minimizing friction between clothes and jewelry pieces.
  2. Keeping you skin dry and managing excessive sweating in areas like the armpits and groin.
  3. Reducing the BMI (body mass index) or loosing weight through regular exercise and healthy dieting.
  4. Treating the underlying condition like keeping your glucose levels within normal range for people suffering from diabetes.

Skin Tags Complications

The complications of soft fibromas include:

  • Thrombosis when the base of the lesion gets twisted – with blue-black coloration and sometimes accompanied by pain
  • Necrosis –  usually the next step after thrombosis.
  • Inflammation – the skin tag is red and sensitive when touched.
  • Infection – when the lesion is traumatized or constant bleeding thus making it a good environment for bacteria multiplication.
  • Other complications may occur but are generally related to each particular removal method.

Skin Tags Removal Methods

There are basically two ways you can get rid of an acrochordon: number one is obviously seeing a dermatologist and paying consultation and treatment fees or the much cheaper alternative is removing skin tags at home with the use of topical preparations such as creams or certain devices such as a plasma pen or ligation bands. I will describe below what to except from both scenarios as my daily job is in fact treating patients for these kind of problems as well as recommending home removal alternatives for the ones that lack the funds for such a procedure within my office, are afraid of needles (some require local anaesthesia with lidocaine) or just prefer to do it themselves from the comfort of their homes.

Best Skin Tags Home Removal Methods And Treatments

The options listed below you can buy and use to safely remove skin tags without complications or pain. For the methods that imply a certain degree of pain (very low intensity in most cases) I will also recommend you some over the counter numbing cream options. All products that I’m about to describe below are tested either by myself or my patients, are hygienic and 100% working.

TagBand Skin Tag Remover

As the name suggests you can guess the principle behind this method that is very simple to use yet very effective – it cuts the blood supply using a rubber band resulting in the skin polyp to fall off. It’s very effective against small to medium skin tags (2 to 4 mm at their widest point) as well as medium to large ones ( 4 to 6mm). Depending on the size of your skin growth you can order the right one for you as it comes in two form factors.

The kit contains all the necessary materials for a safe removal : one cone used to applying the rubber band on the growth, one TagBand remover, 10 rubber bands as well as 10 cleansing swabs that will be used to disinfect the lesion prior to application. You can use the device on all body regions including the neck and face except the eyelids (very sensitive area that requires other approaches).

Before getting started with TagBand you should know that the process takes some time and usually the skin polyp will fall off on its own in around one week (depends on the size and the amount of time that is needed for the blood supply privation to kick in).

How To Use TagBand Skin Tag Remover

  1. Proceed to opening the box and locating the Skin tag cone and the rubber bands.
  2. Place one rubber band on the cone starting with the thin part until the band fits on the cone towards its thicker end
  3. Wash your skin tag gently with soap and water and let it dry completely then use one of the cleansing swabs or some alcohol to further disinfect the area.
  4. Assemble the cone and TagBand remover and place the cone onto the skin tag. In case the treated area is not easily accessible ask a family member or friend to help you.
  5. Slide the rubber band onto the acrochordon near its base.

You are done. All you have to do now is wait for it to fall off on its own in a couple of days. By no means do not try to tear it or cut it out yourself.

Aftercare

After 5-7 days a small red zone where your lesion was located can be observed. In case a crust forms, do not try to peel it off as it will go away on its own in another couple of days after bathing. Repair creams are recommended to speed up the healing process and reduce the redness besides a good skin repair cream is a must have in any household.  Depending on your budget I recommend picking one from the list I compiled in the Aftercare section at the bottom of this page.

A complete review of the product can be found on my website here.

Portable USB Rechargeable Skin Tag Removal Tool

The portable rechargeable removal tool is a device that generates plasma (a fine current) at the tip of a fine needle. The method resembles somehow what I would normally using in my office to remove skin tags using radiocautherization. The lesion is heated using a plasma current and thus ablated (vaporised). The great advantage of this method is that it works instantly on all skin tag sizes, shapes and colors and it is reusable, meaning that you can treat multiple family members or friends provided that you obviously swap with a new needle (20 included) for each use.

Although the device description states that it also works on moles and tattoos I do not recommend using it for these kind of lesions. As a doctor I advise against mole ablation using electrical currents (long argumentation here) and secondly it will simply not work on tattoos. For skin tags on the other hand it can prove a very good home treatment choice provided you follow some simple use instructions provided below:

  1.  Unbox your Skin Tag Removal Pen and charge it via USB until the battery meter reaches the full sign.
  2.  Insert the needle tip into the head of the pen
  3. Now, you must clean the zone and disinfect it using alcohol or an antiseptic solution.
  4. Since a slight degree of discomfort will be present I recommend using some numbing cream before starting the procedure. I recommend over the counter preparations that contain lidocaine in different percentages. Some options can be found also on Amazon and include: UberNumb 5% Lidocaine and Numb 520 .
  5. Wait 10-15 minutes for the numbing cream to kick in.
  6. Using the portable skin tag removal (power intensity 1 or 2) tool cauterise the skin tag by repetitive touching in short intervals. In case your lesion has a base (it hangs) aim at the root with repetitive taps until it is fully dissected. DO NOT hold the needle on a single area for more than one second as the heat can dissipate and harm the surrounding tissue.
  7. Use a local antiseptic and dressing to cover the treatment zone and make sure you keep the area dry for a 2-3 days.

Check the latest price of the Portable USB rechargeable skin tag removal tool on Amazon here.

Wart Mole Vanish Herbal Kit

This product is very effective against all kinds of benign skin growths like skin tags and warts located on any body region except the face (it is quite strong and I would not recommend using it on sensitive areas). It is one of the best treatment options if you want fast results and as it acts on the lesions in under 20 minutes. Another advantage is that it also works well on another common skin problem such as warts or verrucas.

The kit contains the solution and one applicator. Start by using a mild disinfectant and in case you have a low pain threshold (it does sting/burn a little bit) proceed to applying some numbing cream prior to usage such as UberNumb 5% Lidocaine or Numb 520 . 

Dermatologist’s tip: surround the area you want to treat with a thick layer of regular moisturizer cream so that the treatment solution does not spread onto normal skin. Apply a small amount of Wart Mole Vanish Herbal cream on your skin tag then wait 20 minutes and clean the area. If you did not use an anaesthetic cream you should feel a little bit of discomfort, it is also to be expected. A small scale or crust will form at the site, do not panic this is normal.

Check the latest price of Wart Mole Vanish Herbal Kit on Amazon

The treatment phase is now completed. The acrochordon will now fall on its own without any intervention. Avoid trying to rip off the scab; what you should do instead is use a skin repair cream daily that accelerates the formation of new healthy skin (see the aftercare section at the end of this page).

Apothecary Tea Tree Oil for Skin Tags

For those of you who are more patient and do not want to deal with electrical currents, ligation bands or other ablation methods the apothecary tea tree oil is the way to go.

The great advantage of this method (although not 100% effective as the ones listed above) is that it implies no pain, it is natural and the risk of scar tissue formation is absent. This aspect is very important especially when the affected area is located on the face, neck or limbs, anatomical regions that are not covered by clothes. As a dermatologist besides considering the best outcome for the patients another key aspect I always pay attention for is the aesthetic result. In this case the result is scarr-free.

Another key advantage of this home skin tag treatment is that it’s one hundred percent natural and it has a pharmacy grade purity (it can be used to make other creams or drugs). As a side note, not related to our subject but worth noting is that it can be also used to make homemade soap, shampoo or even used as a bacteriostatic (halts the multiplication of bacteria) in certain concentrations.

The disadvantages include the fact that the patient will see the results after a couple of months meaning that the treatment compliance must be excellent (the tee tree oil must be applied every day).

How to use: Apply a small amount of oil on the lesion then cover the lesion with a small band-aid for better diffusion. Repeat the process until the skin tag dries and falls off on its own.

Other Skin Tak Removal Methods

Below I will list additional home skin tag removal treatments that are more affordable (in most cases you will find everything you need in your house) but are not proven to work in all cases or thy can result in more serious complications.

  • Vinegar : as many of you well know vinegar is a weak acid meaning that it can be theoretically used to destroy skin cells. Because it’s not that strong, the end results may vary and some residual redness may occur. Although I do not recommend using vinegar for treating skin tags some degree of success can be achieved especially for those of you who are on a budget.
  • Cutting them yourself using scissors or other sharp instruments. Highly not recommended although it does get the job done. The risk of infection is high and you will end up with a variable scar on the treatment area. Hemorrhage (loss of blood) is present in most cases and if you remove a large skin tag there are high chances you will not be able to stop the bleeding on your own.  Because I’ve had many patients presenting to my practice with skin infections and end up paying more for treating the resulting complications I defiantly advise against such a DIY procedure.
  • Pulling off skin tags : the reasons I would not try this are obvious and the end results are hemorrhage, scarring and infection in most cases.

Skin Tag Removal Aftercare

So you are done, with a little bit of help from my part you managed to safely remove skin tags from your skin. In all cases except using essential tea tree oil, the underlying skin need time to heal for a couple of days. With best results in mind that include minimizing the risk of scar tissue formation and fast epithelization (formation of new skin tissue) you should be aware of the following:

Keep the area as dry as possible and avoid washing it for a couple of days. The reason behind this can be a little bit counterintuitive for some so let me explain. First, the surrounding skin has a normal bacterial flora and when you get the lesion and the surround area wet all that bacteria enters the wound and the risk of infection raises. Your skin is programmed to heal in a certain way, depositing certain “construction” material on top of the wound some of which is water and soap soluble and washing all that hard work away obviously won’t do any good. Just keep the wound dry from soap and water for a couple of days and you will be fine.

I recommend using a skin repair cream that stimulates the skin to grow, not form scar tissue and also acts as bad environment for germs. Creams that I usually prescribe for my patients for skin tag  removal aftercare can be also ordered online and used by you at home. These preparations include:

  1. Terrasil Wound Care – 3X Faster Healing –  homeopathic , good antiseptic, really does wonders for skin healing without scarring. It’s also a great product for any kind of wounds, bed sores, pressure wounds or burns.
  2. Avene Skin Recovery Cream – world-renowned brand that specializes in skin products with vast research proof. It has multiple uses so it’s a great addition to your home.
  3. TriDerma Intense Fast Healing Cream – for those who are on a budget but still want a good product for skin repair.

Scars & Scar Tissue Formation

After the healing process has ended the skin should look normal obviously but in rare cases a small scar can develop on the treatment area. This scar-tissue formation has to do with two key aspects: the degree of aggressiveness of the treatment and how your skin generally heals. Some patients develop small scars no matter the treatment option they opted for because their skin simply heals this way – with scar-tissue (the exact mechanism of this process involves collagen formation which is different in every individual). In case you developed a small scar do not panic as there are treatment options for these too. The most effective treatments that can help flatten a scar and determine it to regain skin color and are backed by research papers (I also prescribe them to my patients) are listed below.

  1. Strataderm Scar Therapy Gel – one of the best treatment options for scars that you can buy without a prescription. It works on both new and old scars. Just apply a small amount on the scar and let it dry. Minimum treatment duration is two to three months. The good part is that It can be also used to prevent scar-tissue formation on all types of closed wounds such as cuts, scratches, surgical wounds or burns.
  2. Scarfade Silicone Gel for Scar Repair – sillicon gel for all kinds of scars new and old; good Strataderm alternative
  3. Bio-Oil – helps regain the normal appearance of uneven skin tone and scars; also works very well on stretch marks; low price for those on a budget.

Removing skin tags at the dermatologist’s office

After the correct diagnosis is established the lesions depending on their size and location will be isolated, treated with an antiseptic then injected with lidocaine for numbing. One of the following ablation / destruction methods will be then selected:

  1. Radiocautherization: vaporizing the lesions using a low frequency electrical current using a special device. Several growths can be treated using this procedure during a single visit. Depending on the size and location of the skin tag the skin can heal without or with residual scarring. The healing process usually takes a couple of days during which the redness will subside on its own.
  2. Criotherapy / Freezing : using liquid nitrogen the lesion is frozen and will fall off. A blister may develop where the lesion was located. The disadvantage of this method is that it lacks the fine control when applying the liquid nitrogen resulting sometimes in bad healing results such as scarring or residual erythema (redness).
  3. Surgical removal in case of big sized skin tags that have a large implantation in the surround skin (the base from which the skin tags hangs from the surrounding skin). Stitches may be required or strips for wound closure resulting in some cases in variable sized scar at the excision site.
  4. Laser removal: the best treatment option with the best healing results in my opinion but with costs that are in my opinion not justified for such small problems. With a price tag of around $50-$100 per lesion excluding the consultation fee it is just not worth the financial effort.
  5. Ligation: although not a common procedure, as newer, faster procedures are available, your doctor can use sterile threads to tie your skin tags in order to deprive them from their blood supply causing them to turn black or dark-brown and fall off. The disadvantage of this method is that the knot has to remain secure in order for it to work. Another key factor that makes this method obsolete and not popular anymore is that it requires a couple of days for it to work and the problem is not resolved within a single visit.
  6. Acid removal with TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid): a small amount of acid in high concentration (up to 80%) is placed on the skin tag. The application in most cases must be repeated until the end result is achieved. Because we are talking about acids in high concentrations and skin tissue, after the healing is over end result is a small scar in most cases. Areas such as the face, neck and limbs with are usually not covered by clothing are therefore not a good candidate for a such type of procedure.

I hope I covered all the main aspects regarding skin tags and some of the options you have for safely removing them at home.  I would be more than happy if I managed to save you from spending a great deal of money on doctor visits or products that simply do not work.  In case you have any further questions or simply what to say “thanks” you can use the “ask Dr. Riciu” section at your pleasing.