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 your lucky stars because this hasn’t happened to you yet, just give it time. It will!
And if you find you do have them—hey, me too!—it’s totally understandable to want them gone sooner rather than later. Read on to learn how to remove skin tags at home without the inconvenience, pain, and expensive price tag of a doctor’s visit.
What are skin tags?
Skin tags are fleshy little growths that are often found in the skin folds, like the neck, underarms, groin, and sometimes even on the eyelids [source]. 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.
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 or removing them with sterile scissors. But if you’d prefer to skip the trip, there are a few things you can do at home for skin tags that may help reduce their size or even clear them up.
It may not be as quick as a visit to the doctor, but these home remedies are inexpensive and natural, and they 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 remedies at home.
How to Remove Skin Tags
It takes time and patience to self-treat skin tags. If you don’t see changes after a few weeks, it’s best to try a different remedy or ask your doctor to take a look.
Baking soda for skin tags
Baking soda is one of the gentler remedies for skin tags. It works by drying out the skin, thus shrinking it slowly over time.
To use, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with enough water to create a thick, smooth paste. Apply the paste to the skin tag 2 to 3 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 of weeks, but if you don’t, it’s best to talk to your doctor or switch to one of the remedies below.
Tea tree essential oil for skin tags
Tea tree is one of my favorite essential oils for treating all sorts of skin issues, not just skin tags. It’s thought that because tea tree oil has a dehydrating effect [source], it might also work for skin tags.
Soak a cotton ball in tea tree essential oil, and place it on top of the skin tag. Secure it with a bandage, and let it 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 areas.
Garlic for skin tags
Garlic is said to be great for skin, thanks to its strong antioxidants [source] that confer antiaging and anti-inflammatory effects. 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 directly to skin tags 2 to 3 times a day until they disappear. If you’re worried about the smell, try mixing it with other essential oils that don’t cause skin irritation, or wear natural perfume to mask it. Just stick with a total of 9 to 10 drops of essential oil for each tablespoon of carrier oil.
Skin Tag FAQs
I have noticed a few tiny growths on my skin lately. How common are skin tags?
Very common, actually. It’s estimated that 50–60% of adults will notice at least one skin tag in their lifetime. They usually develop during the 30s and 40s, but their incidence increases with age. And they are just as common in men as in women. It’s interesting to note that the tendency to get them runs in families. And they are seen more frequently in people with certain health conditions involving increased insulin, like diabetes, obesity [source], and metabolic syndrome [source], and in those with certain genetic disorders [source].
How long do they usually last, and will they ever go away on their own?
Skin tags rarely go away on their own and will typically remain throughout life [source].
How are skin tags removed medically?
Removing them is usually done in the doctor’s office with radiocautery, the application of high-frequency radio waves [source], similar to that used for acne scars [source]. They can also be removed by freezing (like with wart removal), surgical excision, ligation, or laser [source].
Can skin tags turn into cancer?
Skin tags are benign skin lesions, and you’ll be happy to know that their risk of becoming cancerous is minimal to none [source].
Is there anything I can do to prevent skin tags?
The recommendations are to eat healthy, exercise, and maintain a normal weight. This is to prevent the conditions most associated with skin tags: obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Rina Mary Allawh, M.D., a dermatologist who practices adult and pediatric medical dermatology, skin cancer treatment, and cosmetic dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.111
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Cut sugar out of your diet and watch the skin tags wilt away.