Skin tags are growths of skin tissue that extend outward from the body. They may be annoying and look funky, but they are actually extremely common and usually harmless.
Here, we give you the 411 on skin tags.
Skin tags can appear on any part of the body
It’s true, you can find them anywhere on the body. But they are more commonly found on the neck, under arms, under the breasts, and in the groin area. So, why these areas?
"It is thought that they are related to chronic friction, which is why they are more common in people who are overweight or obese," says Allyson Sorensen, PA-C, a physician assistant in the Department of Dermatology at University of Utah Health. "Higher levels of growth factors (like during pregnancy), insulin resistance (more common in people with diabetes,) and genetics could all play a part as well."
Skin tags don’t need to be removed
While the presence of skin tags can be unsightly and annoying, there aren’t many reasons to remove them. If they are in locations where they can get stuck in clothing or zippers, it may be a good idea to have them taken off to avoid pain and bleeding. Skin tags near the eyes may need to be removed as they can cause problems with vision.
Skin tags don’t grow back
If you get a skin tag removed, they are not likely to grow back. For the most part, skin tags are harmless and won't cause any problems other than their appearance. However, new tags can occur in the same area if there is continued rubbing or irritation.
“Weight loss and avoiding clothing or jewelry that causes chronic rubbing and irritation is helpful to prevent more skin tags from occurring,” Sorensen says.
As with all skin growths, if you notice a change in size or color it's a good idea to see a medical provider.
Want a skin tag removed?
If you decide you want to get rid of a skin tag, you can either have a medical provider do it, or you can do it yourself if the skin tag is smaller.
If skin tags are small, you can remove them with sharp clean scissors, like cuticle scissors. Or you can tie floss or thin thread at the base of the skin tag and leave it in place until the skin tag falls off.
If the skin tags are large, it’s best to have them removed by your provider where local anesthesia can be administered (if necessary) and bleeding can be controlled. In some cases, the provider may be able to avoid bleeding altogether by freezing the tags off.