The Skin Game

So I see (every day) these ads on cable TV. It’s a “homeopathic” remedy for skin tags. That is, it’s a product that you apply to remove skin tags. It’s called Tag Away.

But wait. Let’s go back to the quoted word in the second sentence.

Tag Away™ Skin Tag Remover removes skin tags in an all-natural, homeopathic way.

Product image from

I highlighted the magic word. The ad seems to be touting Tag Away as a homeopathic remedy. Now let’s go to the definition of the word homeopathy.

Homeopathy involves a process known by practitioners as “dynamisation” or “potentisation” whereby a substance is diluted with alcohol or distilled water and then vigorously shaken in a process called “succussion”. Insoluble solids, such as quartz and oyster shell, are diluted by grinding them with lactose (trituration). The founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann (1755 — 1843) believed that the process of succussion activated the “vital energy” of the diluted substance, and that successive dilutions increased the “potency” of the remedy.

The idea is considered a pseudoscience, because at common dilutions, no atoms of the original material are likely to remain. It is illogical that a process of dilution would arrive at a higher potency. There is not enough water on earth to produce the highest homeopathic dilutions from one molecule.

In quoting the original text from Wikipedia I have removed the notations to referenced sources.

So, if Tag Away really is homeopathic, then the active ingredient, Thuja occidentalis, is possibly diluted to zero.

Tag Away™ Skin Tag Remover is a homeopathic, topical remedy made from all-natural plant extracts that help eliminate those harmless skin overgrowths without any pain. Tag Away™ Skin Tag Remover removes skin tags the all-natural way with its special formula that contains natural plant extracts and the active ingredient Thuja occidentalis – a pure essential oil recognized for its tag-removing properties.

Recall the supposed basis behind homeopathy.

In producing remedies for diseases, homeopaths use a process called “dynamisation” or “potentisation”, whereby a substance is diluted with alcohol or distilled water and then vigorously shaken by 10 hard strikes against an elastic body in a process homeopaths call “succussion”.[73] Hahnemann advocated using substances that produce symptoms like those of the disease being treated, but found that undiluted doses intensified the symptoms and exacerbated the condition, sometimes causing dangerous toxic reactions. He therefore specified that the substances be diluted, due to his belief that succussion activated the “vital energy” of the diluted substance[74] and made it stronger. To facilitate succussion, Hahnemann had a saddle-maker construct a special wooden striking board covered in leather on one side and stuffed with horsehair.[75][76] Insoluble solids, such as quartz and oyster shell, are diluted by grinding them with lactose (“trituration”).

In true homeopathic practice, the cure is a substance that produces the symptoms, but is diluted to eliminate its adverse effects. So, does Tag Away contain active Thuja occidentalis, which, according to homeopathic practice would be a substance that produces skin tags? Or is the Thuja occidentalis so diluted that it is hardly present or even not present in the product? The ads for Tag Away do not specify.

In the 19th century Thuja was in common use as an externally applied tincture or ointment for the treatment of warts, ringworm and thrush. “An injection of the tincture into venereal warts is said to cause them to disappear.”

Once again, I have removed notes from the quoted text. Contrary to expected homeopathic practice, Tag Away uses a curative agent, not an agent that produces skin tags. What kind of homeopathic remedy is that? And does Tag Away really contain any active ingredient? I went to a site that advertised itself as an ingredients list. Here is what I found.

Tag away ingredients list

Males might develop penis skin tags because of friction caused by sporting tight undies, utilizing condoms, and also sexual intercourse. Don�t stop utilizing the product. Though it bled like crazy! The often takes place during the course of maternity because an outcome of hormone imbalances and also skin stretching.

There is more, but there is no ingredients list. It is just a product testimonial in fractured language of some derivative. I was hoping to find an active ingredients list for this product, but nowhere have I found one. I am thinking that if I purchase the product I will not find such a list on the label, unless the label says something like “Active ingredient less than 1% Thuja occidentalis.” Since I am unwilling to shell out $19.99 (plus $9.95 postage and handling) for two small bottles of the product (buy one get one free), I will likely never know the answer to that question.

In that case let’s suppose. Let’s suppose Tag Away really is a homeopathic remedy. If that’s the case, and if the dilution is what is typical of many homeopathic products, then the product contains zero Thuja occidentalis. If there are no active ingredients, then what you are purchasing (buy one, get one free) is two small bottles of water. Why do I keep thinking of an old poem from the century before the previous one:

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

Would that the ancient mariner had some bottles of Tag Away.

But wait. There’s more.

You do not need to pay anything to get rid of skin tags. I had one. It was at the hair line in one of my sideburns. I was being treated for a skin condition, and I pointed it out to my doctor. He told me that was only a skin tag, and I could just scrape it off. And I did. A bit at a time, and it was gone in a few days. And I did not have to pay $9.95 for postage and handling (buy one and get one free).

Is this a great country or what? You can pay $19.99 (plus $9.95 for postage and handling) for a product that you don’t need (buy one and get one free). How come P.T Barnum is not still around to enjoy all this fun?


2 thoughts on “The Skin Game

  1. Pingback: Dying to Believe | Skeptical Analysis

  2. Pingback: Dying to Believe | Skeptical Analysis

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