Skin tags are small, non-cancerous (benign) pieces of skin sticking outside of the skin and often connected to an underlying piece of skin by a skin stalk. They appear like small bits of hanging skin and are more common in areas where clothing rubs against the skin or where there is skin-to-skin friction, including the groin area, neck, underarms, and upper chest. They are not present at birth and risk factors of skin tags include age. Approximately 25% of adults have skin tags.
Causes of Skin Tags
The main cause of skin tags is from friction from the adjacent areas of skin as well as from clothing touching your skin. It can be worsened with heat or sweat, such as the upper chest, underarms, groin folds, neck, or eyelids. For this reason, it is more common for obese individuals to get skin tags and they can also be seen in children on occasion. Other risk factors for skin tags include being pregnancy, or having Crohn’s disease.
Symptoms of Skin Tags
Skin tags are usually flesh-colored but can also be brown on light-skinned people. They range in texture and feel, where they can be wrinkled or smooth, and range in size from 1mm to about the size of a grape. The smaller skin tags around 1mm or so are more common. The smallest skin tags look like small raised bumps on the skin. Skin tags can also turn black or red if they are twisted on the point of blood supply and can also bleed if torn or caught on clothing. Skin tags themselves aren’t painful and shouldn’t cause any sort of symptoms or side effects; they also are not associated with medical conditions or skin diseases.
Diagnosing Skin Tags
Skin tags should be easy for any doctor or dermatologist to diagnose with a simple physical examination. They tend to be characteristic and their appearance should be enough for a solid diagnosis. However, some tests are performed to rule out other skin conditions, such as a skin biopsy. They can sometimes mimic moles, warts, or benign skin growths. It is extremely rare for skin cancer to look like a skin tag or a skin tag to be associated with skin cancer.
Treating Skin Tags
The only time treatment of a skin tag is necessary is if the patient wants them removed. They aren’t harmful or dangerous and don’t cause any side effects or complications. However some people don’t like their appearance and will have them surgically removed.