How To Remove Skin Tags With Nail Polish

Reviewed on 3/9/2021

Skin tags basics

Nail polish is not recommended for skin tag removal. See your doctor for treatment options.
Nail polish is not recommended for skin tag removal. See your doctor for treatment options.

Skin tags, also known as acrochordons, are small skin growths that begin appearing on the skin of men and women around 20 years of age. Doctors estimate that close to 60% of adults have at least one skin tag in their lifetime.

Though skin tags do not usually pose a health risk, some people still want to remove these skin tags. One home method involves placing a drop of clear nail polish on it, letting it harden overnight, cleaning it off with polish remover, and repeating the steps for up to 2 weeks. 

Removing growths from your skin with any methods not approved by doctors puts you at risk of several conditions. Doctors do not use this method and haven't tested it, so it is not proven to work except in urban legend.

What is a skin tag?

Acrochordons — skin tags — appear on your skin sometimes as early as your teenage years and stop appearing sometime after age 70. Tags appear as small bumps on the skin, either close to the skin or as a stalk growing away from the skin. They sometimes appear in clusters and can grow large enough to snag on clothing or jewelry.

Main symptoms

Skin tags don’t generally cause any health problems, but they can have some irritating symptoms. Some of the symptoms you might experience are:

  • A soft bump on the skin
  • A small bump that gets larger over time
  • A painful bump if it becomes twisted
  • Irritation if it is rubbed by clothing

Main causes

Skin tags have no associated cause, although they have some of the same characteristics as warts. Skin tags have been associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) and diabetes mellitus (type 2). 

Geneticists and doctors also believe that there is a link to skin tags, Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome (BHD), and tuberous sclerosis.

It should also be noted that a family history of skin tags, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome has been found to make someone more at risk of developing skin tags when compared to people that don’t have any family history of the conditions.

Who can get it?

It is unknown who is more prevalent in getting skin tags. The condition has been affiliated with HPV, BHD, and a few other diseases, so you might develop skin tags if you have any of those conditions. A family history of skin tags and seemingly random events lead to anyone being susceptible to growing skin tags. 

Diagnosing skin tags

Doctors usually visually diagnose a skin tag. Most tags are wiggly and flesh-colored. If it is discolored, seems firm or different than a skin tag, a biopsy is conducted to see if there is anything significant about the bump.

Skin tag treatments

Removal is the only treatment for skin tags. Skin tags are simple for doctors to remove.

Medicine

Medicine isn’t generally prescribed for skin tags unless you need some pain relief after the removal.

Home care/remedies

Some home care or remedies you may hear about are clear nail polish, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, or removing it yourself with nail clippers or a sharp knife. None of these methods are recommended for skin tag removal by doctors. 

None of the home remedies have been tested. You might be able to remove a skin tag yourself if you take proper precautions for infection, but if you don’t know how to do it, the procedure is best left to trained medical personnel.

Surgery

Surgery, as it is thought of by non-medical personnel in an operating room under anesthesia, is generally not necessary for skin tags. Your doctor might give you local anesthesia to numb the pain of cutting the tag off.

Doctors use medical scissors or a scalpel to cut tags off. Sometimes, a doctor opts to use electrocauterization or a freezing procedure to remove them and cauterize the wound.

Risks of removing tags with nail polish

Clear nail polish becomes very hard when put on fingernails. It is made of different chemicals that might be harmful to the human body if they are ingested. If you put nail polish on your skin, you’re allowing the chemicals in the polish to possibly be absorbed into your system. 

As the polish hardens, it might even become bonded to your skin, so that you need to cut it off or use nail polish remover to get it off. This can cause more complications because remover has different chemicals that can cause harm if they are absorbed.

If you treat yourself at home with home remedies, you run the risk of infection or chemical damage to your skin. This means you’ll have to go to the doctor anyway. Save yourself a trip, and have a doctor remove your skin tags.

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References
SOURCES:

American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: "Skin Tags."

Environment International: "Nail Polish as a Source of Exposure to Triphenyl Phosphate."

Harvard Medical Publishing: "Skin Tags (Acrochordon)."

National Center for Biotechnology Information: "Skin Tags."

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