A skin tag is a tiny, benign, outpouching of skin that is typically connected to the underlying skin by a thin stalk. Skin tags look like tiny bits of "hanging" skin and typically occur in sites where clothing rubs against the skin or where there is skin-to-skin friction, such as the underarms, neck, upper chest, and groin.
Skin tags are not present at birth and their frequency increases with age. Skin tags can be observed in about 25% of adults. Studies have shown a geneticpredisposition to the development of skin tags. Therefore, skin tags can run in families.
A skin tag is medically termed an acrochordon. Sometimes, other terms have been used to refer to skin tags. These include soft warts (although they do not represent true warts), soft fibromas, fibroepithelial polyps (FEP), fibroma pendulans, and pedunculated fibroma.
Skin tags are typically flesh-colored or may appear brown in light-skinned individuals. They may be smooth or wrinkled and range in size from very tiny (1 mm) to approximately the size of a grape.
Although it is usually possible to recognize a stalk that attaches the skin tag to the underlying skin, very small skin tags may appear as raised bumps on the skin.
If a skin tag is twisted on its blood supply it may turn red or black. Skin tags may bleed if caught on clothing or are otherwise torn. Skin tags are not painful and are not associated with any particular skin conditions or symptoms.
Skin tags are believed to develop due to friction between adjacent areas of skin or between clothing and skin. Common sites for skin tags include the underarms, upper chest (particularly beneath the breasts in women), neck, eyelids, and groin folds.
Because of the increased skin-to-skin contact and friction, skin tags are more common in overweight or obese people. Although skin tags can sometimes be seen in children, they tend to increase with age and are most common in middle-aged and older individuals.
Studies have suggested an inherited susceptibility to the development of skin tags. In people with Crohn's disease, skin tags around the anal opening (perianal skin tags) are common. The hormonal changes of pregnancycan also stimulate the growth of skin tags, particularly during the second trimester of pregnancy.
Skin tags are not cancers. Reports of skin cancers arising in skin tags are extremely rare.
Because tags are benign, treatment is unnecessary unless the tags become frequently irritated or present a cosmetic concern. If removal is desired or warranted, a dermatologist or similarly trained professional may use cauterization, cryosurgery, surgical ligation or excision to remove the acrochorda.
There is now an over-the-counter solution that causes skin tag removal. This method freezes the skin tag which results in the skin tag "falling off" in approximately 7–10 days, which is similar to over-the-counter wart removal.
Another common home remedy is to knot a piece of thread around the base of a skin tag, which cuts off circulation of blood to the tissue and causes it to fall off. Skin tags treated in this way will usually fall off within 48 hours.