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
While the majority of skin tags are simply destroyed, sometimes tissue is sent for microscopic exam by a health care specialist known as a pathologist, who will determine the exact diagnosis and determine whether an abnormality such as skin cancer is present. Irregular skin growths that are larger, bleed, or have an unusual presentation may require pathology examination to make sure there are no irregular cells or skin cancers.
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.
I went on my way after my doctor’s appointment, relieved. But maybe I shouldn’t have been. Many doctors I've spoken to say people with obesity are more likely to get skin tags due to the increase in skin friction. I probably weighed 120 pounds (lbs) booted out in snow gear. But there are other risk factors for skin tags — factors that, if you’re suffering from them, may be worth investigating.
What's to know about bumps on the skin? Bumps on the skin can be harmless. However, they can also point to more severe conditions, such as skin cancer. Learn all about common types of bumps found on the skin in this MNT Knowledge Center article, from skin tags to melanomas, including their causes, treatment options, and when to see a doctor. Read now