Skin Tags: Frequently Asked Questions You Might Have

Posted on: 27 September 2016


According to the American Family Physicians, acrochordon, or skin tags, are a common problem that impact 25 percent of adults. Whether you have a single skin tag or a cluster on your thighs or under your arms, you might be concerned about what causes these tiny flaps of skin, or if the condition is potentially dangerous. Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions about skin tags – including how to get rid of them:

What Exactly Are Skin Tags?

Basically, a skin tag is a benign papule that is typically attached to your skin by a thin flap or stalk. Typically, skin tags do you occur on smaller children and are only found on adults. Their frequency can increase with age, and they are more common in obese individuals and pregnant women. In some cases, pregnant women might notice their existing skin tags becoming larger or darken. Skin tags can occur on their own and in clusters and can vary in size and color, depending on their location.

There are several names for skin tags, so don't be concerned if your dermatologist uses any of the more technical names. For example, skin tags are also called acrochordon, cutaneous tags, fibroma molluscum, soft fibroma or Templeton skin tags.

What Causes Skin Tags?

Typically, skin tags occur in areas that are prone to friction or irritation. These areas include:

  • Armpits
  • Inner thighs
  • Eyelids
  • Neck
  • Chest
  • Underneath the breasts
  • Groin area
  • Between skin folds

Unfortunately, doctors aren't quite sure why skin tags form – but they believe it is the friction that occurs when your skin either rubs together or against your clothing or other irritants. In many cases, skin tags can run in the family, or can be brought on by the hormonal changes of pregnancy or the presence of HPV, the human papilloma virus.

Are Skin Tags Dangerous?

Skin tags are not dangerous and are not an early warning sign of cancer. However, if you notice your skin tags are becoming irritated or are bleeding, or you are developing several new skin tags, the Cleveland Clinic recommends contacting your doctor or dermatologist, immediately. A healthcare professional can help you pinpoint the reason why you're developing more skin tags, such as a hormonal imbalance.

Additionally, skin tags are not contagious, and you will not develop more skin tags if you have any removed.

How Can I Get Rid of My Skin Tags?

Luckily, skin tags are only a cosmetic issue, but this doesn't make them less irritating. If you have several skin tags that you want to get rid of, there are several options available. There are at-home treatments, but typically these take several days, such as tying a thin string or piece of dental floss around the base of the skin tag, or are ineffective, including several over-the-counter treatments.

Your best option is to have the skin tags removed by your dermatologist. Depending on the size and location of the skin tag, your dermatologist will have options. For example, your dermatologist can utilize either liquid nitrogen to freeze the skin tag or a cauterizing tool to burn it off. Both of these options are minimally invasive and have amazing results. Your dermatologist will only need to use a local anesthetic to numb your skin if the skin tag is large. Otherwise, smaller tags are removed without any numbing agent.

Removing skin tags on your eyelids or near your eyes often involves a visit to the ophthalmologist. This is because the skin surrounding your eyes is very sensitive, and there is a slight risk of damaging your eye during the removal process.

Skin tags are a common issue that plague both men and women alike. If you're dealing with skin tags, don't hesitate to contact your dermatologist immediately to discuss your removal options.