Certain endocrine syndromes, metabolic syndrome, and hormonal imbalances. Researchers have found that certain hormone-related syndromes, including polycystic ovarian syndrome and metabolic syndrome, may be related to skin tags. In fact, a small study of 110 patients with skin tags found 70 had diabetes. Additionally, researchers noted that patients with skin tags also had higher blood pressure. (4)
Shaving: A combination treatment that uses electrocautery and shaving to reduce the appearance of protruding moles. Mole shaving does not remove the root of the mole, so there is no excision scar, however there is a chance it will grow back over time. This procedure is most commonly used on protruding moles in areas that do not heal well with excision (nose).
These small (often) flesh-colored benign growths can develop anywhere on the face or body. And both men and women (of all ethnicities) are vulnerable to the condition. You may not even be aware that you have skin tags. The problems begin when they’re easy to see, form in a cluster or they grow in size. They can also become irritated, infected or blood-filled.
Michelle Nguyen, a dermatologist and the director of Mohs micrographic surgery at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, tells Allure that what we call skin tags are really just benign skin lesions composed of normal skin tissue. New York City dermatologist Joshua Zeichner adds that skin tags, comprised of extra skin and fat, can happen to anyone. There is, however, a genetic component to them, and people whose parents had them are more likely to get them themselves.
And I was getting them exactly where I was expected to. Michele Farber, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, says they can happen anywhere, but “they are normally on the neck, underarms, [and] underneath the breasts and the groin folds.” Cynthia Abbott, MD, who works with Dermatology Affiliates in Marietta, Georgia, says that while “skin tags are an outgrowth of skin most commonly occurring due to constant rubbing and irritation,” that they “can form anywhere, but the waistline, underarms, groin, neck, and other areas of friction with necklaces and clothes are the most common locations.”
But that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore skin tags. David Lorschter, MD, founder of Curology and a board-certified dermatologist in San Diego, notes there are exceptions. He says people with a genetic disorder called basal cell nevus system (BCNS) usually exhibit spots of basal cell skin cancer that look like — you guessed it — skin tags. Therefore, people with BCNS should have their skin tags biopsied and screened for cancer on a regular basis.
Susan Besser, MD, a family medicine specialist with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, says that if skin tags “get large, change color, or become infected or ulcerated, you need to see your doctor. In those cases, it may not be a simple skin tag and further evaluation is needed.” By and large, Todd Minars, MD, of MINARS Dermatology in Hollywood, Florida, states, “Skin tags are harmless. If they do not bother you, then there is no need to treat them.”
One final cost is pathology to determine if the mole is cancerous or precancerous. This isn't usually necessary if the mole has been there a very long time. If the mole is new, has changed recently, or has other suspicious features like bleeding, your health insurance should cover the cost of removal and pathology. If you don't have insurance or if you prefer to have a mole sent even when it's being removed for purely cosmetic reasons, then pathology will cost an additional $125-200.
Cutting the skin tag off. Most doctors prefer to remove a skin tag by cutting it off quickly in office. The procedure will begin with cleaning the area with an antiseptic solution. Depending on the size and location of the skin tag, the doctor may rub a numbing solution on your skin. Then, the doctor will use a very sharp tool to simply slice the tag away. The area will be cleaned again and a bandage will be applied. You can expect to feel very little pain during the procedure. Most only feel a pinprick sensation. Occasionally. tag removal may require the doctor to stitch the resulting wound. (5)
It is important to stress that any changes in your skin, including moles and skin tags, should be looked at by your physician or dermatologist to rule out skin cancer including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Routinely check your skin for any changes, and photograph areas of concern so you can keep track of any variations easily.
"Neurofibromas are just little skin-colored, fleshy papules. These little bumps are very common," says Geraghty. "Some people hear 'neurofibroma' and they may think of the genetic syndrome called neurofibromatosis." Neurofibromas can be seen in neurofibromatosis (a genetic condition), but most people have neurofibromas without having the genetic syndrome neurofibromatosis. "Neurofibroma lesions can happen even without that syndrome and typically that’s the case." Like skin tags, neurofibromas are benign.
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.”
I have them. You might have them, too. In fact, according to a study published in the journal Dermotologica — the only one that provides hard numbers on the subject — 46 percent of 750 randomly selected people studied had them. But I was in my early twenties, and I had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that over the course of several months, a few tiny bumps had appeared — on my genitals, mostly in the fold between my thigh and pubic area. From what I could tell, they were skin-colored. They were not moles. Clearly, I had a sexually transmitted disease (STD). I thought they were warts. I Googled, and then I dearly wished I hadn’t.