Our skin is our largest organ and may develop new growths as we age. Skin tags are variably-sized, fleshy, non-cancerous, soft growths that appear like small appendages on the skin. Most lesions appear in folded areas of the body at the neck, armpits, beneath breasts, and in the groin. It is unclear why skin tags occur but their presentation appears to be related to aging, body metabolism, and hormonal changes.
Who gets skin tags?
Any one may develop skin tags. They are most common in adults over the age of 30 but can be found in older children entering puberty or in young adulthood.
In addition to normal aging, skin tags are associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. These two conditions are related to increased body weight and obesity. Other metabolic disturbances related to hormonal imbalances may also lead to skin tag growth. A velvety change of the neck, armpits, or groin called acanthosis nigricans may present with skin tags in the setting of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and Type II diabetes. Often, treating these underlying health conditions will reduce the presentation of skin tags.
While pregnancy is not a hormonal imbalance, the state of increased hormones in the body may lead to skin tag growth in the second or third trimesters in pregnant women.
What other things can look like skin tags?
Other growths on our skin may develop in common skin tag areas and may resemble these benign lesions.
What can I do?
Skin tags can be removed as they present usually with no scarring or other long-term consequence.
It is important to have all atypical-appearing or symptomatic skin lesions evaluated because a trained clinical eye can identify these differences or send in a biopsy of a lesion to confirm the diagnosis. Be health proactive and find a board-certified dermatologist or other experienced skin care provider near you!