Best way to get rid of skin tags?
September 19, 2005 7:22 AM   Subscribe

What's the best remedy for skin tags?

I have a few skin tags, which are starting to increase in number as I get older. They run in my mother's side of the family, and I know they're harmless, but they bug the crap out of me, especially the ones on my neck. I know the "go see a doctor" response (which usually involves freezing), but is there any risk to the "tie it off" home remedy? How long would that take?
posted by mkultra to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have first-hand experience, but my SIL does. She's a nurse, but is really skittish about blood or pain (she fainted in the shower once when she nicked her leg slightly while shaving...), and she does the tie-off thing, with cotton thread, and has no problem with it whatsoever. It takes about a week, if I recall correctly. No pain at all, since there are no nerves in the tags.
posted by iconomy at 7:47 AM on September 19, 2005

I'm pretty sure there are nerves in the tags.
posted by delmoi at 8:02 AM on September 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

The string method works well (and is kinda cool, in a creepy sort of way), but the fingernail-clipper method works just fine too, and is faster. Maybe boil the clippers first, and have a bandaid on hand.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:03 AM on September 19, 2005

When I was *very* young and stupid (like, nine), I used a steak knife to cut off a skin tag on my armpit. Sparing you the gory details, it was painful but not horrifically so, and presumably you wouldn't be using a unsterilized kitchen knife on yourself.

So - if I survived that, you can certainly survive the "tie it off" remedy.
posted by kalimac at 8:05 AM on September 19, 2005

Your skin tags put you at a greatly elevated risk of colon cancer, by the way - some kind of wacky hereditary thing. Don't forget to go have your screening colonoscopy when you're 40.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:19 AM on September 19, 2005 [3 favorites]

I was told by a dermatologist - while undergoing a dermatological procedure - that I could just slice 'em off myself with a razor.
posted by stevil at 8:19 AM on September 19, 2005

I'm pretty sure there are nerves in the tags.

Are there? My SIL told me that there weren't any, so I apologize if I'm wrong.
posted by iconomy at 8:22 AM on September 19, 2005

my dog has a massive (about 1.5 cm long) skin tag that has been the butt of many jokes and is pretty much part of the poor pup's identity now, but it still bugs the crap out of me. anyone try the tie-off method with an animal?
posted by quadrinary at 8:49 AM on September 19, 2005

I'm not sure if there are nerves in the tags themselves, or whether it's just the skin around the base of the tag, but there is some pain involved with DIY removal. And a surprising amount of blood, if you cut them off. Not a big deal in either case, but you should know.
posted by Hildago at 8:53 AM on September 19, 2005

The idea of slicing it off or tying strings around it to cut it off sounds absolutely awful. I would only allow a dermatologist to do it. 30 seconds and it's all over.
posted by kdern at 8:59 AM on September 19, 2005

I have some tags that I want to have, er, professionally removed. Is it generally the domain of a general MD, or a dermatologist? Is there any long-term scarring left after removal?
posted by robbie01 at 9:00 AM on September 19, 2005

I asked the same thing a little while ago - the answers there may help you too...
posted by benzo8 at 9:08 AM on September 19, 2005

The idea of slicing it off or tying strings around it to cut it off sounds absolutely awful. I would only allow a dermatologist to do it. 30 seconds and it's all over.

Untrue. You left off the part where you have to write the check. And either you pay for the full visit (as you should for a purely cosmetic issue) or your insurance pays and you're part of why health insurance costs are up 78% since 2000.

Nail clippers and some Irish courage if you need it, though alcohol impedes clotting and IMHO the bleeding is the only really annoying part of dealing with them yourself.
posted by phearlez at 9:20 AM on September 19, 2005

A gentler removal method would be to use alpha hydroxy acids to gradually exfoliate your way though the tag. Copper peptides can cut down the irritation from the acids. I've bought from Skin Biology in the past.
posted by 4easypayments at 9:25 AM on September 19, 2005

You might call a dermatologist's office and get a price quote. When I checked recently, I was told that the rate was $50 for 1 to 5 skin tags, $100 for 6 to 10. (And yes, that is WITHOUT any contribution from an insurance company.)
posted by WestCoaster at 10:48 AM on September 19, 2005

Perhaps a hybrid method. I have only ever had one, when I was a teenager, it was a bit bigger than 5mm long (perhaps only 2-3mm wide). I tried the nail clipper, but I didn't have the balls for it, so I tied it off with thread. Within 30 minutes it was numb and I clipped it right off.

Of course as they get larger this must become more problematic.
posted by Chuckles at 10:56 AM on September 19, 2005

I took a cuticle siccors to a 2mm on on my neck. I pulled it tight and snip, snip. No pain, hardly any blood, not even a scar.
posted by johnj at 11:29 AM on September 19, 2005

Oh, and save the skin bits for a festive salad garnish.
posted by johnj at 11:30 AM on September 19, 2005

Note that if you use the tie-off method, the tag will swell up, change color, and hurt. The pain isn't bad, but the area will be sensitive for a few days. Don't be alarmed.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:39 AM on September 19, 2005

(Dental) Floss (as opposed to string) seems to work remarkably well for my dad.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:45 AM on September 19, 2005

I have a fairly large one on the back of my leg. A dermatologist removed it surgically when I was a kid, but it grew back, and I haven't bothered to do anything about it since. Just be aware that no removal method is foolproof.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:04 PM on September 19, 2005

nail clippers. it hurts for a fraction of a second when you cut through, but once it's off, there's no pain. the only problem. on the other hand, mine were very small (~1mm), so the string suggestion wouldn't have worked.

i also shaved one partially off and it turned black and fell off on its own, but that hurt more.
posted by clarahamster at 1:38 PM on September 19, 2005

I just recently removed one with the freeze off liquid wart remover stuff. It worked just like freezing a wart off with liquid nitrogen.
posted by kookywon at 1:46 PM on September 19, 2005

I've had a few of those, I just use something really sharp (not nail clippers, like expensive cuticle scissors) and cut them off. Some lady at the office said her doctor told her it was perfectly OK to do that.
They sting briefly, and since the narrow part is well-vascularized, they tend to bleed for a couple of minutes, but it all stops in a minute.
It hurts less that way than some of the medieval stuff they do at the doctor's office, and a lot cheaper.
If you wanted to be a wimp about it, I would imagine you could put an ice cube on it for a couple of minutes to numb it first, and that would keep the bleeding down also.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 7:12 PM on September 19, 2005

I've had success by placing a band-aid on them -- tightly -- for several days...they turn black and just fall off. Good luck.
posted by davidmsc at 8:25 PM on September 19, 2005

I've used over-the-counter wart remover to freeze mine off. There's no blood or pain (maybe a little sharpness when you first freeze them) and they just shrivel up and fall off after a few days. It's much a easier way to get at those small, hard to reach tags, too.
posted by stefanie at 8:41 PM on September 19, 2005

Ok, I'm going to jump in and ask without being anonymous - what about skin tags in "sensitive" areas? I developed one during pregnancy that my GYN said would go away, but my son is 3 now and I still have it. It's small and hardly noticible - and I'm single for the next few years, at least ;-) - but it still bothers me a bit. Seems to me you'd need the most delicate solution for skin tags of that nature, but I have no experience with them.

Though they did just snip them off my dog's eye with scissors a few times.....I'm just not that brave.
posted by TTNoelle at 11:50 PM on September 19, 2005

I sharpened the heck out of some scissors and cut off the big one on my neck a few weeks ago. It healed great. It stung some cutting it, but not so much I wouldn't do it again.
posted by Katravax at 10:09 AM on September 20, 2005

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