Dermatologists say nay: The tags are almost never cancerous and don’t need to be removed; in fact, they’re (almost!) always benign. And while many people opt to remove them due to discomfort or for cosmetic reasons, there is no harm in leaving them be. There are extremely rare exceptions to this rule: In one study, two patients with known basal cell nevus syndrome (BCNS) were found to have multiple basal cell carcinomas that resembled ordinary skin tags. “There are rare cases where skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and even melanoma, can mimic a skin tag,” says dermatologist Avnee Shah, MD. “Going to a board-certified dermatologist assures a trained eye is examining the lesion and determining the risk of a more harmful condition masquerading as a skin tag.” To be safe, if any tag is growing, changing color, or bleeding and itching, it’s definitely time to see an expert. Find out 6 surprising signs of disease your skin can reveal.
I went through the stages of grief. First, I lived in denial. Then I got angry. How could this have happened to me? I tried bargaining. "I will never sleep with anyone ever again if I just wake up and these things are gone." Then I slid into depression. I actually would never sleep with anyone again because who would want to sleep with someone, I thought, who had an STD? Never mind that even chronic STDs are manageable and treatable, and shouldn’t be stigmatized. I was raised to think these things didn’t happen to nice girls.
My skin tags, of course — like the skin tags of millions of people — were fine. They didn’t irritate or bother me, though some doctors mentioned them getting twisted in necklace or irritated by rubbing on clothing. When that happens, or for cosmetic reasons, skin tags are easily removed. “There are several methods of removal — clip them with sharp scissors; freeze them with liquid nitrogen; or burn them off with heat,” meaning cauterize them, Dr. Besser says. (All of this should be performed by a medical professional, not at home.)
Back in the 1980s, there was some speculation that skin tags were more common in people who went on to develop colon polyps or colon cancer. Subsequent research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, however, found no association. That means people with skin tags had no greater chance of developing colon polyps or cancer. The authors concluded skin tags should not be used as a reason for more intensive screening.
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)