Skin Tag

How are skin tags treated?

It is important to keep in mind that skin tags usually do not have to be treated. Deciding not to have treatment is always a reasonable option if the growths are not bothersome. If the tags are bothersome, multiple home and medical treatment options are available:

  • Tie off the tag at its narrow base with a piece of dental floss or string.
  • Freeze the tag with liquid nitrogen.
  • Burn the tag using electric cautery or electro-desiccation.
  • Remove the tag with scissors, with or without anesthetic.

There are several effective medical ways to remove a skin tag, including removing with scissors, freezing (using liquid nitrogen), and burning (using medical electric cautery at the physician's office).

Usually small tags may be removed easily without anesthesia, while larger growths may require some local anesthesia (injected Lidocaine) prior to removal. Application of a topical anesthesia cream (Betacaine cream or LMX 5% cream) prior to the procedure may be desirable in areas where there are a large number of tags.

Dermatologists (skin specialist doctors), family physicians, and internal medicine physicians are the doctors who treat skin tags most often. Occasionally, an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) is needed to remove tags very close to the eyelid margin.

There are also home remedies and self-treatments, including tying off the small tag stalk with a piece of thread or dental floss and allowing the tag to fall off over several days.

The advantage of scissor removal is that the growth is immediately removed and there are instant results. The potential disadvantage of any kind of scissor or minor surgical procedure to remove tags is minor bleeding.

Possible risks with freezing or burning include temporary skin discoloration, need for repeat treatment(s), and failure for the tag to fall off.

There is no evidence that removing tags causes more tags to grow. Rather, there are some people who may be more prone to developing skin tags and may have new growths periodically. Some patients even require periodic removal of tags at annual or quarterly intervals.

Reviewed on 7/8/2014

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