Skin tags are small fleshy growths that protrude from the surface of your skin. Also known as acrochordons, they typically appear in places with creases or folds — like the neck, eyelids, armpits and groin area. They may be the same color as your skin or darker, and some can dangle from a stem or stalk. While most people don’t need to remove them, they can cause discomfort if they rub against clothing or jewelry or snag on hair follicles when you shave. If you’re noticing more of them in these areas or they become irritated, it’s okay to consider treatment or home remedies to help eliminate them.
While it’s tempting to turn to an online video or over-the-counter products for quick fixes, a better way is to talk to your doctor. They’ll be able to tell you what your options are, including when you should contact a dermatologist.
A dermatologist will take a look at your skin tag and make sure it’s not cancerous or a sign of other serious health issues, says New York City board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner. He adds that there’s a genetic component to skin tags, so if you have parents with them, it’s more likely you’ll get them as well. Other factors that may contribute to their development are pregnancy, weight gain and excess body fat.
If they’re not dangerous, your doctor will recommend leaving them alone, as they don’t need to be removed unless you want them gone. However, he or she might suggest a topical product that dries out the tag and causes it to shrink and fall off. These include wart and skin tag removal creams, which can be found over-the-counter, or cryotherapy solutions that freeze the tag.
You can also use natural methods to try and dry out the growths. Banana peels skin tag removal reading are one example; simply apply a piece to your skin tag at night and repeat this for a few weeks. Another option is apple cider vinegar, which is thought to break down the tissue and cause the tag to shed. If you want to try a more invasive approach, a dermatologist can use electricity conducted through a wire to burn off the growth, which usually results in no bleeding or scarring.
While it’s not entirely clear what causes skin tags, they tend to form in areas of skin rubbing against itself. Reducing friction by not wearing ratty or scratchy clothes and by not shaving in the same spot where you have tags can help prevent them from growing, says UPMC’s Nguyen. Removing them can also help, though it’s important to see a dermatologist first to make sure they’re not cancerous.
The good news is that most home treatments for skin tags are safe, but you should never cut or burn off a skin tag by yourself because this could lead to infection or permanent scarring. Trying to remove them yourself could also confuse a benign skin growth for something that needs professional attention.