The causes of skin tags are not entirely clear but their presence in skin fold areas suggests that friction or frequent irritation is a potential cause. The condition appears to have a genetic component (there is a tendency for skin tags to occur in families) but other potential causes include hormonal imbalances. For example, skin tags are associated with agromegaly, the growth hormone disorder.
Skin tags (acrochordons) are small, noncancerous (benign) growths that usually measure only a few millimeters in length, though they can grow up to half an inch.3 They typically appear on the neck, armpit, groin or inframammary areas.4 Almost half the population has been reported to have a skin tag, but the condition is more associated with obese people.5 Skin tags are also rare during childhood, but older people have an increased chance of developing them.6
However, some people also want moles removed for cosmetic reasons. Moles can be disfiguring — especially on the face. If they’re on your cheek, they distort your profile. Plus, they’re distracting (to you and others). Sometimes others stare at your mole instead of looking in your eyes during a conversation. Or maybe you see it out of the corner of your eye. If it starts to block your vision, it becomes a medical concern.
Most people choose to remove them for cosmetic reasons, especially skin tags that surface on the neck, eyelid, or face. In rare cases, a skin tag can get irritated and infected. In that case, skin tag removal is the best course of action to prevent infection from reoccurring. But, what causes them? And once you have them, you need to know how to get rid of skin tags. We’ll explain it all.
"Skin tags are these fleshy little bumps that are just annoying as can be. Skin tags can rub against clothing or get caught on jewelry and then they can get really irritated and inflamed. Some people’s skin tags even bleed. Skin tags often form in areas of friction. They'll appear around the neck, under the arms, on our thighs, even around the eyelids," says Geraghty. If you want to get rid of skin tags, read on for advice from Geraghty about how to remove skin tags at the dermatologist's office.
Nope: Don’t cringe away from your friends or family affected with skin tags; they pose no threat to you whatsoever. Even though some skin tags may be caused by a virus (HPV), once the virus has embedded itself, it’s not going anywhere. “Viruses land on your skin all the time and the virus itself is minimally contagious because the skin is not a great habitat on its own,” notes Dr. Johnson. “It takes a special environment to give the virus a chance to infect our skin cell DNA. Once it has survived and embedded itself, the skin keeps it isolated so that the only result is the skin tag itself.” Here are the 37 worst pieces of advice dermatologists have heard.
Some other studies have suggested that skin tags may be associated with thyroid problems. An article published in December 2016 in the Journal of Evolutionary Medicine found that about 11 percent of people with thyroid issues had achrocordons, or skin tags. These patients tended to have a higher number of thyroid nodules and thyroid volume. This, they hypothesize, is because “skin tags and thyroid changes may be associated with high levels of circulating insulin.”
Insulin resistance, which may lead to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, may also play a role in the development of skin tags. People with insulin resistance don’t absorb glucose effectively from the bloodstream. According to a 2010 study, the presence of multiple skin tags was associated with insulin resistance, a high body mass index, and high triglycerides.