The Skinny on Skin Tags: 6 Questions and Answers

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Your skin is your body’s largest organ — and the most outwardly noticeable one — so it’s no wonder that any discolorations or bumps may have you worried that something is wrong.

One type of skin issue you might notice is a skin tag — a small growth (or growths) connected to your body by a thin stalk of skin. Skin tags can be irritating little blemishes that raise a lot of questions.

Here are the answers to six common questions you might have about skin tags.

1. What Are Skin Tags, Anyway?

“Skin tags are small skin growths that commonly occur in the fleshy folds of your skin. They are usually about 2 to 5 millimeters in size — the size of a tiny pebble — but can sometimes grow larger — up to half an inch,” explains Kateryna Kiselova, DO, physician at Penn Family Medicine Valley Forge.

You can have one or multiple skin tags on your body, and just about anyone can get them. However, they are more common in older adults and those who are obese or have diabetes.

Skin tags have a unique shape which allows them to get pushed and moved around quite a bit. They are usually the same color as — or slightly darker than — the rest of your skin.

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2. What Causes Skin Tags?

“It’s not clear what causes skin tags, but one possibility is irritation from rubbing within the folds of the skin. This is why obesity can increase your risk,” says Dr. Kiselova.

3. How Are Skin Tags Different From Warts or Moles?

Skin tags are not the same as warts or moles. There are a few ways to tell the difference:

Moles

Unlike skin tags — which tend to be a similar color as the rest of your skin — moles are noticeably pink, tan, or brown. While some moles can be raised, they tend to be flat and round or oval-shaped. In some cases, moles can develop into skin cancer (melanoma).

Warts

Like skin tags, warts may be the same color as the rest of the skin. However, they tend to have a rough texture. And unlike skin tags, which have no clear cause, warts are caused by a virus that can be spread from one person to another.

4. Are Skin Tags Dangerous?

Skin tags are generally harmless and, most importantly, benign, so they don’t signal cancer.

They do not tend to be painful, either, but they can be irritating if they get caught up in clothes or jewelry.

5. Do Skin Tags Need to Be Removed?

In some cases, skin tags can be left alone. However, if they become irritated — or are simply irritating — a dermatologist can remove them.

Dermatologists get rid of skin tags in many ways:

  • Removing the skin tag surgically
  • Freezing the tag until it can be safely removed (cryotherapy)
  • Burning the tag off (cauterization)
  • Cutting of the tag’s blood supply by tying a string around it, causing it to fall off

6. Will Skin Tags Grow Back After Being Removed?

Skin tags do not grow back after removal. If you develop other skin tags in the same place after removal, you may just be prone to having them in that area.

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