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.”
Skin tags are thought to be caused by collagen and blood vessels that bunch together and get caught inside thicker skin. As skin tags more commonly occur in skin creases or fold, it is believed they are mainly caused by skin rubbing against skin. However, no one knows for sure. Skin tags affect all people of any gender. However, some people are at a higher risk for developing skin tags. You may be more likely to develop skin tags if any of the following applies to you:
Skin tags are extremely common small tissue growths on the skin’s surface. Up to half of all people may get one at more at some point in their lifetime. Most often, skin tags are harmless, painless, and don’t grow or change. While you can find them all over your body, skin tags often form on areas of the body subject to rubbing. You are most likely to find them on the neck, armpits, trunk and in body folds. (1)
The vast majority of skin tags are benign tumours but one study of 1,335 lesions found that four were basal cell carcinomas and one was a squamous cell carcinoma. Nevertheless, the authors suggest that the malignancy potential of skin tags is low. Patients experience few, if any, problems with skin tags although pruritus and discomfort can occur if the lesions are snagged by jewellery.
A mole is a skin abnormality that develops when skin grows in a cluster instead of spreading out. These are usually dark, small patches of skin no larger than the size of an eraser head. Although they are most often harmless, some moles can develop into melanoma skin cancer. If you are concerned about a mole that may be cancerous, please refer to our skin cancer treatment page.
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Reducing skin friction — like, not wearing necklaces that can rub on the skin — can help keep new tags from developing, says Nguyen, who adds that removed skin tags don’t typically grow back, though new ones may grow in the same general area where tags have previously popped up. A healthy diet and lifestyle can help keep blood sugar level low, which may also help prevent skin tags from forming.
Other skin conditions such as warts and moles can resemble skin tags. Since some moles may be cancerous, it’s best to have your skin tags examined by a doctor. Your dermatologist or family doctor will be able to diagnose skin tags. They’ll likely do this through a visual exam. If they have any doubt about the diagnosis, they may also perform a biopsy.