How to Remove Skin Tags Safely and Effectively

·2 min read
Skin Tags - Lead
Skin Tags - Lead

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Tag — you're it.

Decidedly less fun than the game you played during recess, skin tags are one of those issues that most people have to tackle at some point. And while they aren't painful or a cause for a health concern, the raised and mole-like appearance can be unpleasant, depending on where they tend to form.

If you've ever considered removing a skin tag, look no further. Here, we spoke to three skin experts to weigh in on all things skin tag-related, including permanent removal.

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What Are Skin Tags?

"Skin tags are very common, harmless soft flesh-colored growths made up of normal skin, and often have a short stem or stalk," explains Dr. Peter Young, a board-certified dermatologist in Massachusetts and medical director of Facet.

Kerry Benjamin, an California-based aesthetician and CEO and founder of StackedSkincare, says that skin tags are typically found on the neck, chest, and underarms, but says they can also occur on the eyelids, groin, or anywhere there is friction on the skin.

What Causes Skin Tags?

While the root cause of skin tags is ultimately unknown, there are some things that can trigger their growth. David Colbert, M.D., a New York-based board-certified dermatologist, says that friction can cause them, as well as rapid weight loss or weight gain. Since friction is a big contributor to skin tags, Dr. Young adds that people with skinfolds tend to have them.

He also says that skin tags tend to be genetic, and the older you become, the more likely you are to develop them. Lastly, Benjamin and Dr. Colbert say that those with diabetes tend to develop skin tags, too.

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What's the Best Way to Remove Skin Tags?

However tempting or easy as it may seem, do not try to DIY skin tag removal. There are several popular at-home methods circulating online, but Benjamin warns that these can be dangerous. "[They] will cause more irritation, bleeding and possibly infection," she says. As such, she recommends either leaving it alone or going to a doctor for removal.

Dr. Young says there are several ways to remove skin tags, including cryotherapy (freezing it off with liquid nitrogen), electrosurgery (burning it off with a cautery device), and cutting the tag off with surgical scissors or a scalpel blade — all of which need to be done under the supervision of a dermatologist.