While removing skin tags may be the best choice for some people, it isn't really necessary unless the area has become irritated. Some patients might prefer instead to treat them topically or make some life changes to prevent larger or additional growths.
The problem with topical treatments is that they can't really do much to keep a person's skin tags from growing bigger or from forming in the first place. If you've had skin tags in the past, and you have an associated risk factor -- for example, if you're overweight, over 60 or have diabetes -- you're very likely to have more of these growths in the future [source: Alai].
Also, there is no topical cream that can get rid of skin tags as quickly as cryotherapy or the use of a scalpel. However, there are a number of products that claim to cure skin tags. Many of these contain herbal remedies such as castor oil, apple cider vinegar or tea tree oil, and their goal is to eventually dry out the skin tag and cause it to fall off. But these approaches, when they work, reportedly take weeks to eliminate the skin tag, whereas a doctor's visit for medical treatment takes only about 20 minutes [source: Skin Tag Help].
Since chafing is one of the assumed causes, one way to treat skin tags is to keep the skin free of anything that could rub against it. Wearing loose clothing made of soft fabric could help reduce skin irritation and, consequently, skin tags. Even if tags have already formed, it's important to prevent them from being repeatedly chafed, which could lead to bleeding and pain [source: Alai]. As long as you can safely keep that irritation in check, it's totally up to you whether or not you decide to have a skin tag permanently removed.
Read on for much more information about treating your skin.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Alai, Nili. "Skin Tag." MedicineNet.com. (Accessed 8/2/09)http://www.medicinenet.com/skin_tag/article.htm
- Crosta, Peter. "What Are Skin Tags? What Causes Skin Tags?" (Accessed 8/1/09) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/67317.php
- Harvard Health Publications. "Skin Tags: Acrochordon." Everyday Health. (Accessed 8/1/09)http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-information/skin-tags-acrochordon-what-is-it.aspx#continue
- Kuwahara, Raymond. "Cryotherapy." Emedicine from WebMD. (Accessed 8/2/09) http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1125851-overview
- Schwartz, Robert. "Acrochordon." EMedicine from WebMD. (Accessed 8/1/09)http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1060373-overview
- Skin Tag Help. Skintaghelp.com. "The Definitive Skin Tag Resource." (Accessed 8/2/09) http://www.skintaghelp.com/herbal-skin-tag-treatment.html
- The New York Times Health Guide. "Cutaneous Skin Tags." (Accessed 8/2/09) http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/cutaneous-skin-tags/overview.html
- University of Illinois Medical Center. "Skin Tags." (Accessed 8/2/09)http://uimc.discoveryhospital.com/main.php?id=147