Skin tags are benign, skin-colored growths that typically appear on areas where the skin rubs against other piece of skin. Tags vary in size, from microscopic growths that blend in well with the skin to those that grow so large they become an inconvenience. Skin tags tend to appear when there are hormonal changes in the body, which is why they can become pretty common among pregnant women. However, they disappear once hormonal imbalances have been corrected.

While skin tags can be removed using laser therapy or topical solutions, they can also be removed at home using a very simply procedure. Here are the most important safety tips you need to know before you tie off your skin tags at home.

Make sure that it is a skin tag

Tying off a skin tag requires a piece of dental floss or thread and can be quick, safe and painless if you do it right. However, it is very important that you make sure that what you are trying to tie off is indeed a skin tag and not a mole or any other skin growth that needs expert medical attention. You can easily identify a skin tag because it is flesh-colored and has a thin stalk of skin connecting it to the body.

Make sure that your thread or dental floss is clean and sanitary

Never use thread or dental floss that has been contaminated in any way because you risk getting bacteria into the skin. Dirty floss or thread may also affect the removal and healing process.

Brace for initial discomfort

Tying off a skin tag is not very painful, even if you are doing it for the first time. You will feel a slight discomfort as you tie the thread or floss tightly around the tag’s stalk, a feeling very similar to a pinch on the skin. This is normal and will subside in a matter of minutes.

Keep affected area clean until the tag falls off

Once you tie a piece of thread or dental floss around the tag, you immediately cut off the circulation of blood that feeds it. In about a week, the tag tissue will eventually become necrotic and the tag will shrivel up and fall off. Until this happens, keep the area clean to avoid any risk of infection. You can gently wash the area using water and mild soap or use a cotton swab dabbed in water to remove any dead skin cells or dirt. Make sure the skin stays dry afterwards.

Keep affected area clean after tag falls off

Once the tag falls off, it is important to keep the area clean since it may still be vulnerable to bacteria. Practice good hygiene and monitor any redness or irritation. Redness or swelling is normal but it should only last for about a week or two.

Watch out for signs of infection

Prolonged swelling and tenderness on the site, redness, and the presence of pus or other type of discharge can indicate an infection. While this rarely happens, it pays to know what symptoms you need to look out for so you know when to get professional medical help.

Tying off a skin tag is one of the most effective ways to remove skin tags at home, for virtually no cost.