What Causes Skin Tags?

May 31, 2016
What Causes Skin Tags?

A common benign growth, skin tags look like tiny, soft balloons protruding from the skin. Though harmless, these growths can be unsightly, especially when they develop in clusters. They can also become irritated due to friction from clothing. If you've noticed these annoying growths on your skin, learn the most common skin tag causes and potential remedies.
Why Do They Develop?
While experts do not know the exact cause of skin tags, they believe aging and excessive friction are the most likely culprits. Most of the time, the growths occur in areas where clothing rubs against skin. Other factors which can increase your risk of developing skin tags include:

  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy
  • The presence of the human papilloma virus (HPV)
  • Insulin resistance associated with diabetes

Because skin tags tend to run in families, researchers also believe genetics could play a role.
Are They Dangerous?
Although they may cause alarm, skin tags are almost always benign. There are very rare instances, when a skin tag might become precancerous or cancerous. If a skin tag bleeds, continues to grow larger or displays multiple colors, a biopsy may be required to eliminate cancer risk.
Sometimes, people mistake warts, moles or another type of growth as a skin tag. Your doctor or dermatologist can determine the exact cause of your skin abnormality. If the growth is near your eye, you can also consult an ophthalmologist.
Should I have My Skin Tag Removed?
Skin tags usually require no treatment unless they are causing discomfort or cosmetic problems. If you do choose to have a skin tag removed, your doctor is likely to use one of the following methods:

  • Cutting them with a sharp tool
  • Freezing with liquid nitrogen
  • Burning with electric current

Most procedures require no anesthetic; however, your doctor may use lidocaine injections or anesthetic cream if your skin tags are very large or if you are having numerous skin tags removed. If your doctor freezes or burns your skin tags, it may take a few days for the growth to fall off. While there is no evidence that removal causes more skin tags to develop, there is no guarantee that your skin tags will not return.
Should I try to Remove My Own Skin Tag?
While some people do successfully remove their skin tags using at-home methods, this is not recommended due to the risk of bleeding and infection. If you are concerned about your skin abnormalities, visit your physician or dermatologist for a professional consultation.

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