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What Causes Skin Tags? And How to Remove Them Naturally

Dr. Salman Mansoor

5 min read

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Skin tags are small, harmless growths on the skin’s surface, commonly found in areas with skin folds like the neck, armpits, and groin. They are skin colored or maybe slightly dark. They may range from a few millimeters to centimeters in size. Although their exact cause is unclear, they often result from skin friction or genetics. Skin tags are non-cancerous and generally don’t require treatment unless they cause discomfort or aesthetic concerns. Medical procedures like snipping, cauterization, cryotherapy, or ligation can remove them.

Causes of Skin Tags

Skin tags, also known as acrochordons, are common skin growths that typically appear in areas where the skin folds or experiences friction.

Some reasons for skin tags are as follows:

1. Friction and Skin Rubbing:

    One of the most significant causes of skin tags is friction and constant skin rubbing against skin or clothing. This rubbing can occur in areas where the skin folds, such as the neck, armpits, groin, and under the breasts. The constant friction may irritate the skin, leading to the formation of skin tags over time. Due to this, skin tags are often found in overweight or obese individuals, as they have more skin folds and a higher likelihood of skin-on-skin contact.

    2. Genetics:

      Genes may play a role in the development of skin tags. A family history of skin tags might also make you more susceptible to developing them. Genetic predisposition may influence the structure of collagen and other skin components, making some individuals more prone to developing these benign growths.

      3. Age:

        Skin tags tend to become more prevalent with age. While they can occur at any age, they are more common in adults, especially those over the age of 50. As we age, the skin loses its elasticity and becomes more susceptible to developing growths like skin tags.

        4. Hormonal Changes:

          Hormonal changes in the body can influence the formation of skin tags. Pregnant women often experience hormonal fluctuations that can increase the likelihood of developing skin tags during pregnancy. Additionally, individuals with hormonal imbalances, such as those with diabetes or insulin resistance, may be more prone to skin tag development.

          5. Obesity and Diabetes:

            Obesity and type 2 diabetes are associated with an increased risk of developing skin tags. People who are overweight or obese tend to have more skin folds, which can lead to increased friction and rubbing, contributing to the formation of skin tags. Furthermore, insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes, is believed to be linked to skin tag development.

            6. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection:

              While the majority of skin tags are benign and unrelated to infections, some studies have suggested a possible link between skin tags and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV is a group of viruses known to cause various skin and genital conditions, including warts. The relationship between HPV and skin tags remains inconclusive because viral infections are not the cause behind most skin tags.

              7. Hormonal Therapy or Steroid Use:

                Skin tags may develop as a side effect of certain hormonal therapies or steroid use. For example, individuals undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or long-term systemic corticosteroid treatment might experience an increased likelihood of developing skin tags. The exact mechanism by which these medications contribute to skin tag formation is not fully understood.

                Skin Tag Removal

                Removing skin tags can be done through various methods, from simple home remedies to medical procedures. Here are some effective ways to remove skin tags:

                1) Over-the-Counter (OTC) Topical Treatments:

                  Some OTC products are designed to remove skin tags. These products often contain ingredients, such as salicylic acid or other chemicals, which gradually break down the skin tag tissue. They typically come in the form of liquids, gels, or patches. It’s essential to follow the instructions carefully and be patient, as these treatments may take several weeks to work.

                  2) Tying Off with Dental Floss or Thread:

                    This technique, also known as ligation, involves tying a piece of dental floss or thin thread tightly around the base of the skin tag. The objective is to cut off the blood supply to the growth, causing it to eventually fall. Before attempting this method, sterilize the area and the thread/floss with rubbing alcohol. Leave the tied thread/floss in place until the skin tag withers and drops off, which may take a few days to a week.

                    3) Cutting with Sterile Scissors or Nail Clippers:

                      Use sterilized scissors or nail clippers, and carefully cut the skin tag off at its base. Make sure to clean the area with rubbing alcohol before and after the procedure to reduce the risk of infection. This method may cause slight discomfort or minor bleeding, so be prepared and have a sterile cotton ball or gauze ready to apply gentle pressure if necessary.

                      4) Freezing with Over-the-Counter Cryotherapy Kits:

                        Cryotherapy involves freezing the skin tag using liquid nitrogen or other freezing agents. Some OTC cryotherapy kits are available for home use. These kits typically come with applicators, which freeze the skin tag. The freezing destroys the cells, causing the skin tag to fall off within a few days to weeks.

                        5) Cauterization or Electrocautery:

                          Cauterization is a medical procedure that involves using heat to burn or sear the skin tag. It can be performed using a special cauterizing tool or an electric needle. The heat seals off the blood vessels, causing the skin tag to detach from the skin. It is a method that the doctor may authorize and attempt. 

                          6) Electrosurgery:

                            Electrosurgery, also known as electrocautery, involves using a high-frequency electrical current to cut and remove the skin tag. This procedure should be done by a dermatologist or trained healthcare professional to minimize the risk of complications.

                            7) Surgical Excision:

                              A surgical excision is a minor operative procedure in which a dermatologist or healthcare provider numbs the area with a local anesthetic and then uses a scalpel to remove the skin tag. It may require stitches if the skin tag removal causes a skin tear. This method is suitable for larger or hard-to-reach skin tags.

                              8) Laser Removal:

                                Laser removal is a procedure where a focused laser beam is used to vaporize the tissue of the skin tag. This method is precise and generally causes minimal bleeding. A skin specialist can provide this procedure in their clinics.

                                9) Cryosurgery:

                                  Cryosurgery, similar to cryotherapy, involves frosting the skin tag using liquid nitrogen. However, cryosurgery is performed by a healthcare professional and allows for a more precise application of the freezing agent, making it suitable for larger or multiple skin tags.

                                  10) Garlic:

                                  Garlic is known for its antiviral and antimicrobial properties, which may help eliminate skin tags. Garlic can be applied directly or in combination with other ingredients to aid in the removal process. Crush a clove of garlic and apply its juice on the skin tag. Cover the area with a bandage, and leave it for several hours. Repeat it until it falls. People who have sensitive skin should avoid this treatment.  

                                  Natural Remedies to Remove Skin Tags

                                  Some people prefer using natural remedies to remove skin tags. Some usual natural methods include applying tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, or a mixture of baking soda and castor oil to the skin tag. These remedies are generally safe, but their effectiveness can vary from person to person. Regardless of your chosen method, keep the area clean and follow proper hygiene practices during the healing process.

                                  If you experience any signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, pain, or pus, seek medical attention immediately. It’s worth reiterating that before attempting any removal method, particularly for larger or multiple skin tags, it is best to consult a dermatologist or healthcare professional to ensure proper evaluation and safe removal.


                                  Skin tags are benign growths that commonly develop due to friction, genetics, age, hormonal changes, obesity, and certain medical conditions. While generally harmless, they can cause discomfort and aesthetic concerns.

                                  Various methods for skin tag removal include over-the-counter treatments, tying off with thread, cutting with sterile tools, cryotherapy, cauterization, electrosurgery, surgical excision, and laser removal. Additionally, some individuals opt for natural remedies. However, seek professional advice before attempting any removal method, especially for larger or multiple skin tags. Consult a Dermatologist in Lahore for proper diagnosis and to ensure skin tags are not mistaken for other skin conditions.

                                  It’s essential to note that skin tags are generally harmless and do not require medical treatment unless they cause discomfort, irritation, or cosmetic concerns. If a skin tag changes in size, shape, or color or becomes painful, consult a doctor at your earliest, as these changes may indicate a different skin condition that requires evaluation and management.

                                  Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

                                  Dr. Salman Mansoor
                                  Dr. Salman Mansoor - Author Dr. Salman Mansoor is a widely respected and renowned dermatologist who has earned an eminent reputation as an innovative leader in Dermatology, Cosmetic Surgery, Anti-Ageing & Laser Treatments.

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