How to Cauterize Skin Tags

by Christian Walker, Ph.D. ; Updated August 14, 2017

Skin tags are a common, small, benign tumor of the skin. They are painless and have an irregular shape, often appearing like a small berry. Most skin tags can be removed with topically applied products or home remedies. Larger skin tags may require cauterization for complete removal. Only doctors can perform this procedure, which is too dangerous to perform on your own. The following will give you some idea how a medical professional would proceed.

Apply anesthetic to the skin area around the skin tag. This step is optional since the size of the skin tag is proportional to the pain it can induce. Smaller skin tags generally do not require anesthetic. Anesthesia can be a topical product that contains lidocaine, such as Betacaine or LMX 4% Topical Anesthetic Cream. Alternatively, lidocaine can be injected subcutaneously to numb the area if required.

Adjust the Bovie electrocautery settings so that they are appropriate for the skin tag’s size. More power is generally required for larger pieces of skin tag tissue.

With one hand, use the tweezers and grasp the skin tag from its largest bulb. Lift and hold the skin tag away from its attachment to the skin base. The stalk of the skin tag should be clearly visible and accessible.

With the other hand, bring the cautery tip to the stalk. Either manual activation or a foot pedal can be used to energize the cautery. Cauterize the stalk thoroughly. Insure any bleeding is also cauterized.

Apply topical antibiotic to the treated area with a sterile cotton applicator. Cover the treated area fully with an adhesive bandage.


  • While most skin tags do not require extensive anesthesia, topical anesthesia is usually recommended as a minimum.

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About the Author

Dr. Christian Walker began writing professionally in 1982. He has published in the fields of surgery, neurology, rehabilitation and orthopedics, with work appearing in various journals, including the "Journal of the American Osteopathic Association" and "European Neurological Society." Walker holds a Doctor of Philosophy in medical physiology from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.