Skin tags are regularly removed for cosmetic reasons. A chemical peel for skin tags involves applying trichloroacetic acid (typically 50% or 80%) to remove the outer layers of the skin. It usually takes 4 or 5 sessions to get results, but other methods may work better for you.
There are things that you need to know about using a chemical peel to get rid of skin tags. Although the process is used by doctors for treating a range of dermatological conditions, it isn’t as simple as just rubbing the acid on your skin and letting it do its work. There are risks associated with performing this process yourself as you’re using an acid. There are areas of the body that you should NEVER attempt to self-treat.
If you have these small lesions on your body and are looking for a removal method that works, a chemical peel may seem like a viable option. This guide will give you all of the information that you need to get results (and avoid making any costly mistakes)!
The process may seem daunting compared to other skin tag removal methods. But, when done correctly, a chemical peel can be relatively safe. If you’d like to find out about the alternatives, here are some of the best skin tag removers.
How to Use a Chemical Peel to Get Rid of Skin Tags
Chemical peels are performed by dermatologists, but often for other skin conditions (acne, skin lightening, etc.) The same acids that doctors use are available over the counter, and you can use them at home (provided that you’re careful)!
There are benefits to doing it yourself. You’re in full control, and you can use the acid on as many skin tags as is required. People who are affected by skin tags often find that they develop in many areas (underarms, neck, back, chest, etc.)
It is less expensive than getting it done by a doctor, but you’re less likely to be able to perform the process with the same level of skill and expertise.
Insurance won’t typically cover the cost of skin tag removal unless there is a medical reason for why the procedure is being carried out.
Step-by-Step Guide to Applying Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA)
- Important: Make sure the area is clean and disinfected. You don’t want the dirt and bacteria on your skin to cause an infection. So, wash the area with soap and water, and sterilize with rubbing alcohol. Make sure that the skin is completely dry before you apply the peel.
Once the area is clean and dry, you can follow these steps:
- Soak a cotton swab or Q-Tip into the solution. Never use your finger to apply it.
- Apply a thin layer directly to the skin tag. Don’t overlap your strokes. Instead, create one even layer.
- Let the solution penetrate the skin for up to 10 minutes. It works by shedding away the layers of skin. The stronger the solution, the more layers of skin will be removed.
- Repeat each day until the skin tag has gone. Wait for it to heal before touching the area.
The stronger the solution, the fewer the number of treatments will be required. Use one that’s at least 50% trichloroacetic acid (preferably 80%). You want the solution that’s strong enough to get rid of the skin tag after a few applications.
You only need to put a small amount on the skin tag (not the surrounding skin) for it to work. Often, you may be able to completely remove a little skin tag with just one or two applications.
How Long Does the Skin Take to Heal?
Once applied to the skin tag, it will burn it off the top layers of the skin. A scab will form. For some people, this will look like a typical scab. For others, it may appear as a sort of white crust on top of the skin.
Complete healing usually takes 3-4 weeks. You can apply an antibiotic cream (or aloe vera gel) to the area each day to keep it clean and lower the risk of infection. Healing can take longer if the scab is irritated.
If the scab falls off prematurely, a new one will form, and the healing process will have to start over. Be careful throughout the healing process, and try to avoid disturbing the area in any way until the skin has recovered.
Here are some tips for skin tag removal aftercare.
Are there Any Risks or Side Effects?
When used correctly, a chemical peel is usually safe. But, there are some things you should consider carefully.
You’re likely to notice a stinging or slight burning sensation on the site where it’s applied. Remember, you’re putting an acidic solution on your skin. This feeling is normal. For most people, it’s not something that’s overly painful, and it goes away.
Redness at the site of application is a further possibility. This can be an issue if you have particularly sensitive skin. But, even this is normal after applying a trichloroacetic acid solution (TCA). The redness should go away on its own in a few days.
- Important: If you find that the process causes pain or extreme redness, you should cease treatment and allow the area to heal. Apply some aloe vera gel to the area to expedite the natural healing process. Never treat an infected skin tag or an area with an open wound/bleeding.
What Precautions Should I Take?
If you want to do it at home without seeing a doctor, there are precautions that you should take. The more you know about keeping your skin safe, the more confidence you’ll have in using a chemical peel for skin tags.
Follow these precautions before you get started:
- You’re using an acidic solution, so just apply it directly to the skin tag itself. Never apply the acid to your surrounding skin. The strong acid is meant to burn away the outer layers of the skin.
- If you have a skin tag on sensitive areas of the body (near the eyes, face, anus, genitals, breasts, etc.), you should AVOID this removal method.
- Avoid self-treating areas that you’re unable to reach easily. This will increase the likelihood of a mistake.
- Never pour the solution on your skin, and don’t use your fingers to apply it. Any part of your skin the acid touches will start to burn, and you don’t need to use a lot in each application for it to be effective.
- It’s definitely not suitable for removing bigger skin tags.
Before commencing treatment, you MUST make sure that you’re removing a skin tag. Several skin conditions are confused with skin tags. If you’re finding it difficult to make an accurate self-diagnosis, talking to a doctor is highly recommended.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Chemical Peel?
One of the best ways to determine if a chemical peel is a good option for removing skin tags is to look at the pros and cons. What is right for someone may not be the best solution for you, for a variety of reasons.
- Easy to apply
- Works relatively quickly (within five sessions)
- Gets rid of skin tags completely
- Can be used to remove many skin tags
- An inexpensive removal solution
- Can cause burning to the skin if applied incorrectly
- The application process can make you feel anxious
- People with sensitive skin may experience more irritation
- Healing will take several weeks
- It can cause the skin to darken or lighten
- Higher risk for people with recurrent cold sores
What Are the Alternatives?
If you’re unsure about removing skin tags with a chemical peel, or you have them in a sensitive area, there are alternatives. One of the most popular is the TagBand kit. This kit includes everything that you need to safely ‘tie off’ skin tags, so they fall off on their own.
If you’d prefer to apply something to your skin regularly, you can go the natural route. By coating skin tags with tea tree oil, they will often shrivel, change color, and flake away.
Are Chemical Peels for Skin Tags Safe?
When applied correctly (and carefully), a chemical peel can be a relatively safe way to remove skin tags at home. It’s not a method that we recommend, but there are many worse (and less effective) options.
You should never rush the process or attempt to remove skin tags from the face or body when you’re short on time. This increases the likelihood of making an error. You may prefer to ask a friend or family member to assist you. It’s vital that you only apply an acidic solution to the skin tag itself.
We hope this guide has given you peace of mind if you’ve been considering a chemical peel. Follow our step-by-step guide when you’re ready to apply the acidic solution to your skin tag. If you perform each step correctly, you can expect your skin tag to go away completely.
Do you like the idea of removing your skin tags quickly, but without using a runny liquid? Well, you’re likely to prefer applying a natural cauterization cream. We’ve performed a side-by-side comparison of the best creams for skin tag removal.