Freezing skin tags, or cryotherapy, is a fast and easy method of getting rid of these benign skin growths. Skin tags are simply soft, tiny, and flesh-colored pouches filled with collagen fibers and blood vessels connected to the skin by stalks.
Cryotherapy for skin tag removal is typically performed in a clinic by a dermatologist. But this can also be done at home using over-the-counter products. The latter is the cheaper option, needless to say.
Unless the removal of a skin tag is medically necessary because it has become infected, for example, cryotherapy will not be covered by health insurance. Surgical removal of a skin tag that is not infected is categorized as a cosmetic procedure. In addition to a check-up, the dermatologist will most likely have to perform a biopsy for a definitive diagnosis before surgical removal is performed.
Cryotherapy involves flash freezing the skin tag using liquid nitrogen. This starves the skin growth of oxygen, effectively “killing” it. The skin tag gradually flakes away over a short period of time.
An over-the-counter freeze spray can be used for at-home skin tag removal. It is also safe, quick, and pain-free. Not all freeze spray products are created equal, of course, and you have to pick a good quality product to ensure that it will be effective and will not have harmful side effects.
Top-Rated Products for Freezing Skin Tags
- Medical freeze spray
- Freezes instantly -60ºF in just three seconds
How it works
Doctor’s Touch Medical Ice Freeze Spray contains a freezing liquid with a temperature of -60 degrees. It freezes on contact, so the best way to use it is by using a skin tag speculum – a small, cone-shaped device that helps direct the spray more accurately. There are different speculum sizes available to fit different-sized skin tags.
You can tape the speculum over the skin tag so it stays in place. The spray has a long, red tube which you will insert into the speculum. Press the spray nozzle for one or two seconds, and release. Alternatively, you can use one of the medical swabs included in the package. Spray the swab and then wipe the skin tag with it. You’ll know that the freeze spray has done its job when the skin tag scabs over. It will fall off on its own when the skin tag is completely “dead.”
- Max Freeze Precision Tip targets the wart and not the skin
- Safe to use on kids age four and up
How it works
Compound W Freeze Off is one of the few products recommended by dermatologists. They are even safe for kids, although children rarely develop skin tags. This product stands out also because of its “Accufreeze” feature – a precision applicator that helps target a specific area accurately. The applicator is adjustable, so you can confidently use the spray on any skin tag, big and small, without worrying about spraying and damaging the healthy skin around it.
You will have to “arm” the device prior to use. To do this, twist the collar of the can counter-clockwise to the 1 o’clock position. Then, hold down the cone for 3 seconds. Do not touch the metal tip. Wait for a hissing sound – this will indicate that it is ready for use. Give the applicator two seconds to freeze, and then apply the tip directly onto the skin tag. Hold the tip in place for 20 seconds, and remove.
You will only need to apply the product once per skin tag, and it is good for up to 15 treatments. Your skin tag will shrivel and dry out over a period of a few weeks; a scab may also form. Wait for the skin tag to fall off on its own.
- #1 Freeze Away Wart Remover (based on 52 Week IRI data)
- Doctor-proven method
How it works
Dr. Scholl’s Freeze Away works just as effectively in removing skin tags as it does removing warts. It typically works after only a single treatment and each package can be used for up to seven applications.
You will have to screw the applicator tip onto the can before use. You should hear a hissing sound to indicate that the applicator is properly in place. Hold the applicator against the skin tag for 20 seconds, and remove.
Cryotherapy: How Does It Work?
Because skin tags have their own blood vessels, effective skin tag removal involves depriving them of blood and oxygen. Flash freezing with liquid nitrogen achieves this easily and quickly. It works the same way a frostbite does. One cryotherapy is usually all it takes to get rid of a skin tag. The skin tag falls off after 10-14 days.
Using a Freeze Spray at Home
While many over-the-counter freeze sprays are advertised as wart removers, they work just as effectively in getting rid of skin tags.
You should be certain, of course, that what you have are harmless skin tags. If you are not sure what type of skin condition it is, and especially if you have observed any changes in the appearance of the growth – such as increase in size or darkening of color – you should consult your doctor before attempting any removal.
Once you are certain that it is, indeed, a skin tag, you can safely use a freeze spray to remove it. You simply have to apply the spray directly on the skin tag; you must avoid spraying the skin surrounding the growth so as not to cause damage to healthy skin. Unlike liquid nitrogen, freeze sprays take longer to work and you will most likely have to use it more than once. Just like liquid nitrogen, freeze sprays break down the skin tag’s cell structure, thereby killing it.
Precautions and Risks
Using an over-the-counter freeze spray/kit for a DIY skin tag removal is safe and easy. Just make sure you carefully follow the instructions provided. As an added measure, you can wear protective gloves to keep some of the spray from getting on your fingers/hands. As much as possible, choose a product that has a precision applicator. It can be tricky to avoid spraying the surrounding skin without a precision applicator.
While you may read online that you can also use liquid nitrogen for a DIY skin tag removal at home, we do not recommend this. Liquid nitrogen is not toxic and relatively harmless, but if you do not know the proper way to handle it, you can cause severe damage to your skin.
Using liquid nitrogen requires wearing protective gear; you should also consult a dermatologist about how to properly handle and use the chemical for your specific purpose. Additionally, you have to know how to store it properly.
Infection rarely occurs when removing a skin tag through freezing; irritation, however, may occur, particularly in the area immediately surrounding the skin tag. This is temporary, and you can soothe the redness with aloe vera or vaseline.
Even with a precision applicator, freezing skin tags is not recommended in sensitive areas such as the genitals and anus, as well as around the eyes.
Here are some additional steps you can take to restore your skin’s health after skin tag removal:
- You can cover the frozen skin tag with a band-aid or gauze to prevent it from snagging, especially if it’s located in an exposed area of your body.
- Do not pull off your skin tag even if it looks like it’ll fall off soon. It should be left alone after freezing. Pulling it off prematurely might cause bleeding and infection.
- You can apply aloe vera gel to the site of the skin tag after it has fallen off.
Freezing Skin Tags – Is This the Best Removal Method?
Skin tags are harmless but they can still be irritating. They can get caught on jewelry and clothing and bleed; they can get irritated as a result of skin friction and perspiration; they can get infected; and they can make you feel self-conscious. For these reasons, many people choose to get rid of their skin tags.
Freezing skin tags is a painless and effective removal method. It is a straightforward process, usually only requiring one treatment, although it still takes weeks for the skin tag to fall off. But it still provides a faster result than other removal methods, such as skin tag creams and tea tree oil.
Another great advantage to freezing is that it has minimal to zero risk of infection. There is a risk of damaging healthy skin when using a freeze spray; steady hands and perfect vision are necessary, so you might want to ask another person to do it for you if you’re not sure that you can do it properly.
A DIY skin tag removal using an over-the-counter freeze spray/kit is a lot cheaper than having it done by a dermatologist. Just take all the necessary precautions, and follow the instructions to the letter.