skin tag

Skin tags have a fancy medical name: acrochorda (a single tag is called an acrochordon). Dermatologists also call them fibroepithelial polyps. These are soft, fleshy growths that often show up in armpits, in the soft folds of the neck, under the breast or in the groin area. Some people get them on eye lids. They usually have a stalk or “peduncle.” What causes them is pretty much a mystery, though some medical experts have suggested that skin friction may be an important contributing factor. Skin tags are benign but unsightly.

Metabolic Syndrome and Skin Tags:

As people get older they tend to bcome more prone to acquiring skin tags. They can range in size from about a grain of rice to as large as a golf ball, though such a large size is quite rare. There is some suggestion that skin tags are a manifestation of metabolic syndrome, prediabetes or diabetes (Annals of Medical & Health Sciences Research, Mar-Apr, 2014). In other words, people who have some of the following signs: a big belly, insulin resistance, higher blood sugar and/or blood pressure and elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels

If you have a bunch of skin tags and love handles, we would strongly encourage a blood test for diabetes. One study reported that 45.1 percent of the people who visited a dermatology clinic complaining of skin tags also had type 2 diabetes (Nepal Journal of Dermatology, Venereology & Leprology, Vol 13, No. 1, 2015).

Getting Rid of Skin Tags:

Although skin tags are by definition benign, it is not always easy for someone to self-diagnose these fleshy lesions. If they have a funny color or look strange in any way, a dermatologist should be consulted.

Almost inevitably the doctor will inject a little local anesthetic into the base and then snip it off with surgical scissors or a scalpel. Skin tags can also be frozen with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy).

Dermatologists sometimes burn off skin tags with an electrocautery device or a laser. They can also cut off the blood supply to the fleshy part of the polyp by tying off the stalk with surgical thread (suture).

Home Remedies:

Removing a skin tag at home involves some risk. There is always the possibility of infection if the skin is not carefully cleansed and if equipment is not sterile. That’s why we were intrigued by this suggestion from a reader:

Liquid Bandage:

Q. Some time ago I read in your column about someone who had success removing skin tags with a liquid bandage. I would appreciate hearing about this remedy.

I have several of these growths around my neck where the chain of my necklace rests. I have been considering having them removed by a dermatologist, but would like to try this remedy first.

A. We have heard from many readers who tell us New-Skin Liquid Bandage works:

“I used it twice a day for three days and the skin tags came off!”

Others tell us it may take a few weeks. Cindy shared this:

“After my mother told me about your article, I applied “New Skin Liquid Bandage” to a skin tag on my neck. I reapplied it daily for about two weeks, and noticed one afternoon that the Liquid Bandage was still on my neck, but the skin tag was gone!”

Another reader shared this experience:

“I tried the suggestion I read in your column about using New-Skin Liquid Bandage for eliminating skin tags. I have gotten rid of four tags on my neck, chest and below my armpit. I found that it takes about a week or so, applied twice a day.”

Another approach some readers have tried involves a wart remedy:

“I found Compound W works just as well for getting rid of skin tags.”

We have no good explanation for why liquid bandage or Compound W would work against acrochorda. Perhaps the chemicals stimulate an immune reaction that shuts down the blood supply to the polyp.

Castor Oil:

Barbara had partial luck with this old approach:

“I had read in one of Edgar Cayce’s books that castor oil will remove moles and skin tags. I put some on a bandaid, and covered the tag with it. In a few days it fell off. It hasn’t gotten rid of all I treated, but I have removed several in this way.”

Bandages:

We have heard from many readers that just using the right bandage over a fleshy lesion can make it go away:

Louise shared this story:

“Five days ago I found a small skin tag under my right breast lined up with the bottom strap of my bra.With constant rubbing it caused the skin tag to be irritated, red and sore. I went looking for information and a solution when I came onto your site.

“Looking around for temporary relief until I was able to purchase the product mentioned. I found our bandages with silver fibers by FORMEDICA. I wore it for five days. On removing it yesterday, I saw that the tag had shriveled and as I touched it, it fell into my hand. You made a believer out of me. Thank you for posting the testimony. I would have never thought that a simple band-aid could do the same job that others say can only be done painfully and costly.”

Daniella has a pretty interesting story to share about bandages:

“I read hundreds of comments on forums before having the confidence to do this. I had a grape size skin tag on my face, near my ear, that literally ruined my life for nearly 10 years. I was too embarrassed and poor for a surgical removal so I used my hair to partially cover it. I even turned down jobs where I’d need my hair tied back.

“One week ago I tried using just a bandage (plaster), or more like 5 because it was so big, to cut off circulation. I twisted the tag and pulled it downward and covered it with lots of plasters to hold it in place.

“On day 1 it didn’t feel any different under the bandages (but a bit colder from lack of blood). Day 2 it was slightly larger and swelled up. Day 3 I carefully changed the bandages and it was big, swollen, much harder and purple. Day 4 it was still swollen a little bit sore around the stalk of the tag with some blood (the tag was detaching). Day 5 I changed the bandages and the tag was very dark, getting shriveled and smaller but still attached. Day 6 there was no pain and the tag was a lot smaller, not swollen anymore but hard and dead. Day 7 it was a quarter of the size and before sleeping I took the bandages off and it was no longer attached. IT WAS GONE!

“It took 7 days, there was almost no pain, a bit of gross bandage changing and lot’s of WILL POWER to go through with it but for the first time in 10 years I’m not constantly trying to cover my face with my hair.”

Richard added vinegar to his strategy:

“Skin tags are easy to get rid of; take a cotton ball soaked in vinegar, cover the tag and use a bandage to hold it in place all night. This may take 3-5 nights but the tag will fall off. Use good bandages to avoid skin irritation.”

Banana Peel:

Lyn offers this approach:

“Take the inner part of the banana peel and cut the peel in a small size and place the banana peel over the tag with a bandage. Do this daily until the tag falls off. If you don’t want the banana peel on 24 hours a day you can put the banana peel on at night prior to bed but it will take just a little bit longer than wearing the banana peel 24 hours. Works great and no pain.”

Diet May Make A Difference:

J. O. wrote:

“One summer my naturopath said my skin tags indicated I was eating too much sugar. I usually do not consume sugar, but I had been eating a lot of fruit. When I cut back, the skin tags shrank and eventually disappeared.

“I find the appearance of skin tags useful when I get careless about sugar from any source. They always go away when I am careful about what I eat.”

D.C.R. reports something similar:

“I have been bothered by skin tags for years. I found myself altering my wardrobe in order to hide them. I eliminated from my diet, gluten, sugar, corn, soy, peanuts, dairy and eggs. I had already known I had trouble with sugar, corn, gluten, and soy and had already eliminated those foods or greatly reduced the amount I ate.

“After 21 days, I reintroduced corn; bad reaction, so that is totally out my diet.
I have learned to enjoy milk substitutes. I prefer almond, coconut, nut milks, or blends of these. I can enjoy cheese aged for more than a year or greek yogurt but I only eat it once a week.

“The purpose of this entry: my skins tags are disappearing without any other treatment. To take care of the remaining tags, I plan to start using Liquid Bandage again. That helped in the past. I feel better in general and have lost 25 pounds. Wish I had know about this possible dietary approach years ago.”

Although we have no way of knowing for sure, this diet might also have helped D.C.R. control blood sugar.

Thread or Dental Floss:

There is also an old-fashioned approach to skin tag removal. Dermatologists do this with surgical thread. We do worry about the possibility of pain and infection. Many people insist that it works. In this case a physician supervised the treatment:

“I had a rather large one on the side of my neck. My dermatologist said to just ignore it. Soon after, I mentioned to a friend (an orthopedic doctor) how much I hated it, and he promptly tied and knotted a piece of thread around it and cut the ends off real close. You couldn’t even see it. He said that would shut off the blood supply to the tag and it would fall off very quickly. It was gone in three days.”

Revised: 2/9/17

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  1. Ben
    Reply

    I removed my skin tags by castor oil. I made a paste of baking soda and and castor oil and apply once a day. They were gone in few days. Worked great for me.

  2. H.F.
    California
    Reply

    Castor oil helps fade brown spots on your hands too.

  3. Debi V
    Burl. NC
    Reply

    I have a growth on my panty line in the front on my inner thigh. It is about the size of a dime and has multiple layers which look like small skin tags, but they are all hard except for the top one which is like a normal skin tag… does anyonehave any advice for me as my doctor doesn’t have a clue what it is…. it’s about 1/4″ tall and I”m really worried about it. I dont ahve a dermatologist here so I dont know if I need to seek one or take care of this myself… Cancer runs in my family….. SUGGESTIONS PLEASE!!!!!!!

  4. mb
    Florida
    Reply

    I Had a skin tab on my inner thigh. I first iced it to numb the area, then with a pair of sharp sissors, I cut it off. Because it was numb, there was no pain. Gone and forgotten.

  5. Colleen
    VA
    Reply

    I had a row of three skin tags on the left side of my neck. They were ugly, and also got rubbed and irritated by necklaces and some collars. I used Liquid Bandage. Applied it two or three times a day, and within a week or two all the tags were gone. Best of all, they haven’t come back.

  6. Sally
    Missouri
    Reply

    I get skin tags from time to time. If they’re small and “skinny”, I sterilize my small scissors and the skin tag and cut it off! Then I clean it again with alcohol and put a small bandaid on it for a couple of days. Most of the time they don’t even bleed.

    I’m sure the doctor would charge at least $100 for the procedure. I am very careful about keeping it clean. I learned this from a Navy Captain who was a nurse and she asked me to remove one from the back of her arm.

  7. Steve
    TX
    Reply

    Skin Tags.
    I had some Arktick (a small dispenser bottle that delivers a single “shot” of freezing spray that is designed to freeze and kill ticks on animals and humans) around. After a visit to the dermatologist who used liquid nitrogen to freeze off a tag (at something like $45 cost) I thought about using this. I would freeze the tag daily for 4-5 days and it was gone. Seems to me to be the same process, and the cost is so much less.

    https://www.amazon.com/Arctick-Pets-Freeze-Kill-Ticks/dp/B00JFRRGK6

  8. Al
    NC
    Reply

    My husband had one under arm pit and I used the ‘tread’ method. It was about week before came off. Used thick tape on grandson’s warts and got rid of them.

  9. Donna
    Minnesota
    Reply

    A first cousin of mine has skin tags all around his neck. He has never eaten vegetables his entire 50 years of life–not even onions! He is now grossly overweight. My theory: terrible eating habits, and too much sugar. His body is fighting for more nutrition and skin tags are his body’s attempt to get his attention!!!

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