Skin Tags

What are skin tags?

Skin tags are small, soft growths of skin. They may look like little wrinkly bumps or blobs. They most often grow on a person’s neck or armpits. They are made of normal skin, but may look darker than your skin. They are not cancer. And they are very common. About half of adults have them. They’re also known as acrochordons.

What causes skin tags?

Experts aren’t fully sure what causes skin tags. They may be linked to blood sugar problems. They may be linked to hormone changes. They tend to happen on parts of the body that rub together, or rub against clothes.

Who is at risk for skin tags?

Skin tags are more common in people who have any of these:

  • Obesity

  • Insulin resistance

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Heart disease

  • Pregnancy

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

  • A family history of skin tags

  • Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome

  • Crohn's disease

If you have skin tags, ask your healthcare provider if you should be tested for blood sugar problems.

What are the symptoms of skin tags?

They look like small, soft wrinkly bumps or blobs of skin. They may be attached with a tiny stalk and move easily. They may be the same color as your skin. Or they may be darker. They can grow in different sizes. You may have 1 or 2 skin tags. Or you may have a lot.

You may have them in any of these areas:

  • Neck

  • Armpits

  • Groin

  • Anus

  • Vulva

How are skin tags diagnosed?

Skin tags are most often diagnosed by the way they look. Your healthcare provider will look closely at the growths.

How are skin tags treated?

Skin tags aren’t dangerous. They don’t need to be removed. But if they bother you, a healthcare provider can remove them. Don’t remove skin tags on your own. They may bleed a lot or become infected.

They may removed in any of these ways:

  • Electrosurgery. A tool uses electric current to dry out the skin tag so it falls off.

  • Snip excision. The skin tag is cut off with a small knife or scissors.

  • Cryosurgery. A very cold liquid is used to freeze the skin tag. The tag dies and drops off in 1 to 2 weeks.

  • Laser. A focused beam of light heats up and destroys the skin tag. The tag dries and drops off in 1 to 2 weeks.

Living with skin tags

Take care with clothes or jewelry you wear. These may rub on skin tags and irritate them. This may cause them to bleed, get sore, or itch.

Your healthcare provider may advise you to lose weight if needed. You may need to take steps to control your blood sugar.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Call your healthcare provider if any of your skin tags:

  • Turn red

  • Get sore

  • Bleed

  • Grow bigger

Key points about skin tags

  • Skin tags are small, soft growths of skin.

  • Skin tags are not cancer.

  • Skin tags may be linked to blood sugar problems. They also tend to happen on parts of the body that rub together.

  • Skin tags don't need to be removed unless they bother you. Don't remove them on your own.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.

  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.

  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.

  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.

  • Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.

  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.

  • Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.

  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.

  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Michael Lehrer MD
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2022
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