Skin tags themselves have a core of fibers and ducts, nerve cells, fat cells and a layer of skin surrounding it. They may have a stalk and generally look like a small piece of hanging skin. Skin tags may have a smooth surface or an irregular surface. They are often raised and either slightly brown or flesh colored. They generally start quite small and flat, like the bump on a pinhead. Sizes vary, and they can grow up to 5 cm in size. (2)
More than half if not all of the general population has been reported to have skin tags at some time in their lives. Although tags are generally acquired (not present at birth) and may occur in anyone, more often they arise in adulthood. They are much more common in middle age, and they tend to increase in prevalence up to age 60. Children and toddlers may also develop skin tags, particularly in the underarm and neck areas. Skin tags are more common in overweight people.
Hormone elevations, such as those seen during pregnancy, may cause an increase in the formation of skin tags, as skin tags are more frequent in pregnant women. Tags are essentially harmless and do not have to be treated unless they are bothersome. Skin tags that are bothersome may be easily removed during or after pregnancy, typically by a dermatologist.
Essential oils contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that may help remove skin tags naturally. One solution that's becoming popular is the use of tea tree oil, which is a potent product derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree from Australia.19 This plant has been studied extensively, with research pointing out that it can help fight bacteria,20 fungi21 and viruses.22 Furthermore, other experts note that tea tree oil contains anti-inflammatory properties.23,24,25
Some common skin tag look-alikes include benign lesions such as seborrheic keratoses, common moles, warts, neurofibromas, and a fatty mole called nevus lipomatosus. While extremely rare, there are a few reports of skin cancers found in skin tags. Skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma may rarely mimic skin tags, as described above.
Which skin conditions occur during pregnancy? Some common skin conditions can affect women during pregnancy, including hyperpigmentation, stretch marks and skin tags. These may be due to physical or hormonal changes. Some will disappear after pregnancy, but others, such as stretch marks, may remain. Topical creams may help, but check with a doctor before use. Read now