Skin tags are common growths that look like tiny, soft balloons of hanging flesh. While unsightly, they are completely benign, and a single person can have anywhere from one to hundreds of individual skin tags. Men and women are equally likely to develop them. Skin tags are typically about 2 mm-5 mm in diameter, but may grow as large as a grape (1 cm in diameter) or even a fig (5 cm in diameter). They are most commonly found on the base of the neck, armpits, eyelids, groin folds, buttock folds, and under the breasts. Of these, the neck and the armpits are the most common.
Skin tags are believed to develop as a result of friction, either friction between skin and skin or between skin and clothing. Friction will also make existing skin tags worse. Try to avoid letting your skin tags rub against jewelry or clothing.
While they are sometimes confused for warts, skin tags are not related to warts, which are caused by the Human Papillomavirus, or HPV. Skin tags are not contagious, generally not cancerous, and do not generally cause pain or discomfort. However, they may occasionally require removal when they become irritated and red from bleeding or black from twisting to the point where blood flow to the tag is interrupted and the skin dies. If you are concerned about your skin tags, or just want to get rid of them for cosmetic reasons, read on to learn about how to use tea tree oil to remove unsightly skin tags.
What is Tea Tree Oil?
Also known as melaleuca oil, tea tree oil is an essential oil that comes from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, a tree native to Australia. While toxic when ingested orally, in small concentrations the substance is used in many cosmetic and skin care products to treat conditions such as dandruff, acne, lice, and herpes. It also has many potential medical applications due to its antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
While there are no official studies either proving or disproving the efficacy of tea tree oil as a skin tag removal product, it has nevertheless become a popular alternative to creams and other over the counter solutions. This site describes other skin tag removal methods.
Using Tea Tree Oil to Remove a Skin Tag
If you are going to use tea tree oil to remove a skin tag, first apply a very tiny amount to your skin to make sure you are not allergic to it.
If you do not have any adverse reactions to it, you can then apply tea tree oil to your skin tag according to the following steps:
- Clean the area around the skin tag with soap and water. Scrub gently to avoid irritating the skin tag.
- Remove any excess water from the skin tag and let it dry.
- Apply a few drops of oil to a cotton swab, cotton ball, or other cotton-based fabric.
- Using the cotton swab, apply the tea tree oil directly to the skin tag. You do not need to apply the oil to the skin surrounding the tag.
Repeat this process several times a day. It will typically take between 14 days and one month to see any results.
If you are unable or unwilling to repeat this process several times a day, you can do the following alternative:
- Soak an entire cotton ball in tea tree oil.
- Use medical tape to tape the soaked cotton ball to your skin, allowing the oil to slowly absorb into the skin tag over the course of the day.
- Change this makeshift bandage once a day.
Note that since this is still a relatively new method, there are no guarantees that it will be successful.