So Long Skin Tags?

How can I get rid of skin tags? Since my insurance doesn’t cover removal, do you know of a homeopathic or home remedy I could use?

– June 23, 2003

Skin tags are harmless soft, skin-colored, rubbery growths that typically hang from the skin by a little stalk. They’re usually found on the neck, armpits, groin, eyelids or other body folds. The medical name for them is “acrochordons” and the worst thing about them is the way they look. If they catch on jewelry or clothing, they can be irritating, too, but they aren’t a sign of skin cancer and apart from the fact that some people find them unattractive, they’re nothing to worry about.

The reason your insurance company won’t cover the cost of having your skin tags removed is that the procedure is considered cosmetic. A dermatologist can snip them off in seconds with a scalpel or scissors, burn them off with an electric spark or freeze them off with liquid nitrogen. All of these procedures entail relatively little bleeding. However, if you’re susceptible to skin tags (they tend to run in families), you may get rid of one crop only to develop another.

One alternative to these procedures that I can suggest is using bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), a small woodland herb that grows in the north central United States and Canada. The red juice from the root is poisonous when taken internally, but used externally has a unique ability to dissolve abnormal growth without disturbing normal tissue. You can buy bloodroot in powdered form or as a paste, apply it to the growth you want to remove and then cover with a bandage. Be sure to follow package directions carefully and use bloodroot with caution.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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