We’ve all been there: we’re looking at ourselves in the mirror one day and out of nowhere we spot a pesky skin tag that seemingly popped up overnight. If you’re counting you lucky star because this hasn’t happened to you yet, just give it time. It will! And if you have them (hey, me too!) it’s totally understandable that you might want them gone sooner rather than later. Read on to learn how to remove skin tags at home without the pain or expensive price tag of a doctor’s visit.
What are skin tags
Skin tags are fleshy little bumps that are often found in areas of friction, like the neck, under arms, thighs, and sometimes even the eyelids. But they can technically appear anywhere. While they’re often considered just a cosmetic issue, they can become a painful nuisance when constantly rubbing against clothes or getting caught on jewelry. Sometimes they’re even known to bleed when the irritation becomes too much. Ouch!
While they’re definitely annoying, skin tags aren’t really a medical emergency nor do they require a dermatologist’s magical touch to make ‘em go away. Your doctor will likely recommend freezing them off with liquid nitrogen (a quick but painful procedure called cryosurgery that insurance won’t always cover.) But if you’d prefer to skip the trip, there are a lot of home remedies for skin tags that can clear them up without the pain or expensive price tag.
It may not be as quick as a visit to the doctor, but these home remedies are inexpensive, natural and only require a trip to your kitchen.
Note: You should never use home remedies to treat skin tags near the mouth or genitals, or if they’re very large, itchy or painful. In some cases, other types of skin disorders (like malignant cancers) can look like skin tags. If you’re not sure, it’s best to pay a visit to your doctor before trying any of these home remedies for skin tags.
How to remove skin tags
It takes time and patience to treat skin tags at home. If you don’t see changes after a few weeks, it’s best to try a different remedy or make an appointment to speak with a doctor.
Baking soda is one of the gentler home remedies for skin tags. It works by drying out the skin tag, thus shrinking it slowly over time.
To use, mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with enough water to create a thick, smooth paste. Apply the paste to the skin tag two to three times a day. Leave it in place for as long as possible, covering it with a bandage if necessary.
You should start seeing improvement within a couple weeks, but if you don’t it’s best to talk to your doctor or switch to one of the remedies below.
Dental Floss or String
Ligation is the medical term for cutting off blood supply to an area of the body. When it comes to skin tags, without a supply of blood, the cells will die and the tag will fall off in a matter of days or weeks.
A lot of people recommend doing this at home with a piece of dental floss or string. First, clean the skin, dental floss, and hands thoroughly to prevent infection (use rubbing alcohol to be extra safe). Then tie a clean piece of floss around the base of the skin tag, where it meets your skin. You want to tie it tight enough to cut off the blood flow to the skin tag, but not so tight that it cuts the skin or causes pain.
Once the flow of blood has been cut off for at least a few days, the tag should change shape or color and fall away naturally. Just note that you may need to tighten the floss every day to ensure that it stays secure.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Soak a cotton ball in tea tree oil and place it on top of the skin tag. Secure it with a bandage and let sit overnight. Repeat nightly until the tag falls off.
This remedy should be used with caution, as tea tree oil may irritate sensitive skin. Never use it for skin tags located around the eyes, mouth or on sensitive skin.
Garlic is said to be great for skin thanks to its anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. To remove skin tags, place a small slice of fresh garlic on the skin tag and cover it with a bandage overnight. Rinse the area in the morning and repeat every evening until the skin tag disappears.
Assuming you don’t want to go to work every day with garlic taped to your neck, you can reap a lot of the same benefits by using undiluted garlic essential oil. Apply a drop of garlic oil directly to skin tags 2-3 times a day until they disappear. If you’re worried about the smell, try mixing it with other essential oils or wear natural perfume to mask it.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a modern day miracle worker used for all sorts of skin issues. We love using apple cider vinegar in a toner because the acetic acid helps remove dead skin cells, leaving skin smooth and refreshed. Unfortunately, this acid content also makes it risky to use as a home remedy for skin tags–if left on too long, apple cider vinegar can damage healthy skin cells. This can result in permanent scarring. If you still opt to try this treatment, follow the instructions here.