What Are Skin Tags: How to Take Them Off and How Long Does It Take

It’s pretty common to have skin tags, otherwise known as acrochordons. In fact, it’s pretty interesting to know that 46% of people may have skin tags at any time of their life, as per the results of several studies. Now, having skin tags won’t harm you in any way, and they are actually considered to be quite natural to have. However, most people don’t like the sight of skin tags which is why they want to find ways to get rid of them. 

Skin tags can grow anywhere on the body and can be gotten by just about anyone. But it is interesting to know that there are certain groups of people who are more prone to getting skin tags than others. One specific group that is prone to getting skin tags is pregnant women. 

They usually develop skin tags during the early stages of pregnancy. Other groups of people who are quite prone to getting skin tags are those who are obese and those who are in the older age bracket. Aging actually increases the chances of getting skin tags. 

The thing about skin tags is that there is really no way to prevent them from appearing. There are also no warning indicators that can tell you whether you’ll get one or not. You can just get one randomly at any time in your life. But if you really can’t stand the sight of it, there are many ways to remove skin tags.

For that reason, we created a complete guide on skin tags. Here, you’ll learn what are skin tags, how they can be taken out, and how to know whether they’ll just fall out by themselves. 

An Overview of Skin Tags 

First off, let’s identify what skin tags are. They’re basically these soft bumps that appear in the body. These skin tags are filled with a mix of blood vessels, fat, skin cells, and collagen. They’re usually called skin “tags” because they hang like tags from the skin. They are also usually the same color as your skin, but the color may vary from time to time. Some skin tags are darker, pinkish, or sometimes red. 

While they are generally small, skin tags appear similar to warts at times. However, don’t confuse them with each other. A wart is completely different from a skin tag. Warts usually come from HPV infections and are highly contagious. On the other hand, skin tags are not contagious and do not come from HPV infections. Warts are also really rough compared to skin tags. 

Now that you know the basic structure of a skin tag, it may surprise you to know that a skin tag is actually a type of tumor. However, it’s nothing like those dangerous cancer tumors. These skin tags are actually just small and benign tumors that aren’t linked to cancer in any way. To be a little more specific, they’re actually as small as a grain of rice, although there are some cases wherein the skin tag may be bigger or smaller.  

While no one knows the cause of skin tags, there is a theory that it comes from the friction of the skin. That’s why areas like the neck and armpits where the skin rubs against each other are the most common places. 

The friction of the clothes to the skin may also be a reason for skin tags. However, studies have not proven this yet. Most of the studies link the cause of skin tags to genetics rather than outside factors. 

Can a Skin Tag Disappear On Its Own?

One of the biggest questions that a lot of people have about skin tags is whether or not they can disappear on their own. The logic here is that if they can develop on their own without any known cause, they can go away as well.

The bad news here is that they don’t usually fall off or disappear on their own. So you’ll need to find a way to take it out either through a home remedy or maybe at a clinic. There are actually a few cases wherein the skin tag may disappear on its own, but those are isolated situations. We’re going to discuss some of the things you can do below:

  • Skin Tags Naturally Falling

One of the bad things about skin tags is that it is possible for skin tags to become bigger and more unattractive if not intervened. In some cases, skin tags may even irritate the skin a bit. 

As we mentioned above, there are some rare cases when the skin tag goes away by itself. This is usually due to some daily activities that will twist the skin tag. This leads to the tissue being cut from the blood supply. After that happens, the skin tag will lose color and fall off. This is known as a thrombosed skin tag.

Another rare case wherein a skin tag disappears is if the skin tags develop during pregnancy. Skin tags that are developed during pregnancy are usually due to hormonal imbalances in the body of a woman. So whenever the hormonal imbalances go back to normal, they just drop out without warning. There are only a few cases of this happening but it is still quite baffling even to medical scientists. But other than these two situations, they usually need outside intervention to be taken out. 

  • Ligation

Another method is ligation which also happens to be the most common one. Ligation pretty much means tying off the skin tag until it falls out. You can actually do this at home if you want. You may also do this procedure in a clinic if you’re not comfortable doing it on your own. Basically, you’ll have a band wrapped around the skin tag tightly. By doing this, you’re cutting the blood supply that goes to the skin tag. After some time, the skin tag will discolor and fall off. 

The great thing about this procedure is that it’s painless. You might feel some mild discomfort when the skin tag falls off, but that won’t last long. If it feels too uncomfortable, you may take pain medication, though this is not usually necessary.

Should you want to do a ligation at home, there are kits that you can buy to help you out. When applying the band on your skin tag, it should drop off in about a week.

  • Cauterization

The third method for taking out a skin tag is cauterization which involves burning off the skin tag. Basically, you’ll use a small heating tool to “burn” the skin tag to kill it. When it dies, it will eventually fall off.

Again, this is a very quick and effective method that is done by most medical professionals. Just like ligation, this can also be done at home with a cautery pen. Unlike ligation though, this one does leave a painful sensation that lasts for a short time. That’s why most doctors use a numbing agent after the procedure.

Once finished, there will be a scab in the area that will go away after a week. Do make sure that the wound is given ample time to heal to reduce the risk of scarring.

  • Surgical Removal
Removing a skin tag via surgery

There’s also always the choice of surgically removing the skin tag. This procedure is also known as excision and is a process that involves cutting off the skin tag with a sharp object like a knife, blade, or scalpel. Unlike the previously mentioned two methods, this one is a little bit more delicate which is why we don’t recommend that you do it at home. 

If you don’t cut it properly, you will suffer from some bleeding. That’s why it’s always best for a doctor to perform the excision instead. Pain doesn’t last too long and an anesthetic is usually used before the surgery.

After the surgery, there will be experiencing slight bleeding, but your doctor will put pressure on the area so that blood clots build up. After about a week or two, the wound should subside and form a scab that eventually just disappears if you leave it alone. 

  • Cryotherapy

If burning off the skin tag is an option, then so is freezing it as well. Freezing off the skin tag is known as cryotherapy, and it involves killing off skin cells by exposing them to extremely cold temperatures. 

Basically, you will expose the skin tag to a chemical that can reach very cold temperatures such as liquid nitrogen. When exposed to this kind of cold, the skin cells will die off and let the skin tag just drop. 

Like cauterization, there are kits that you can buy so you can perform cryotherapy at home. But if you want, you can get a doctor to do it for you too. If a doctor does this procedure for you, he will spray liquid nitrogen on the area and just wait for the process to finish. In fact, the process can be over in a matter of minutes. 

Typically, doctors use only one spray per skin tag. But this also depends on the size of the skin tag. Sometimes, the bigger skin tags will require more than one sprays, but this is not that likely to happen. Like the other methods that we’ve mentioned above, this one also does leave a stinging or painful sensation. If you find it too painful, then your doctor can prescribe some painkillers to ease the discomfort. 

Once the procedure is done, you can expect the skin tag to fall off in about three weeks. The beauty of this procedure is that it leaves your skin smooth and clear. You’ll also be free from scarring.

  • Tea Tree Oil

While not really a medical procedure, tea tree oil has been said to help take away skin tags. It is a pretty new way of taking out skin tags using a 100% natural method. Just to give you an idea, tea tree oil comes from the extract of tea tree leaves. It can be found in many drugstores and supermarkets, but the most common place to find it is in online stores. 

How it works is that it completely dehydrates the skin tag until it dies off. When it dies, it will shrink away and fall off. Probably the only disadvantage of using tea tree oil as a means to remove skin tags is that it does not work right away. You need to put it on your skin tag three times every day. Dab a bit of it with a cotton ball daily and you should start seeing results in the third week.

Even though this method takes a lot of patience and a lot of consistency, it is painless. It won’t even hurt after the skin tag falls off. Best of all, you won’t have any scars. It’s also very easy to do at home compared to the other methods. 

However, this method may not work for everyone. There are cases wherein it works wonderfully for some people but not for others. The reason for this is still unknown. So if you want to try using tea tree oil, you should use it up until the sixth week. If there is still no improvement, then it most likely doesn’t work and that you should just try some of the other methods that we’ve listed above.

Conclusion

If you happen to have a skin tag or two, then we believe this guide will be very helpful to you. Don’t worry too much about it because it is a relatively common condition. As it can affect so many people, there are so many ways to address it as well.

At the very least, our guide has given you all the information you need in order to remove your skin tag. It is up to you to choose which of the methods works best for you. All you have to do is take your up and push through with it.