What Are Skin Tags?

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Skin tags are harmless growths, usually small and elongated, that form frequently under arms, on eyelids and on the chest and neck. These growths, sometimes called acrochordons, are usually painless, and tend to roughly the same color as your skin, if not a bit darker. Acrochordons often occur in places where frequent friction occurs or where clothing might be worn tighter. They can also appear in creases and folds of skin.

Usually, skin tags are caused by collagen and sometimes blood vessels that swell up under the skin and become trapped in bundles or polyps. Skin tags are incredibly common, affecting nearly 3 million people in the United States.

Skin tags are nothing to worry about. They are benign and should not cause any discomfort unless they are irritated. Most acrochordons do not require any treatment or removal. Although some people try to remove skin tags themselves, this is not recommended. Removing them yourself can be painful and can lead to infection, or if around the eye, permanent injury.

However, some people might feel that skin tags, particularly those that occur frequently and in highly visible areas, might need some attention. There are a few things that you can do to help prevent skin tags or to get them removed altogether.

Wearing looser clothing or less jewelry in sensitive areas can help friction and prevent more skin tags from forming.

Keeping your weight down and regulating diet has been shown to help reduce skin folds and skin-on-skin friction that might occur on individuals who are overweight.

Skin tags may be removed by a dermatologist. Options for removal include freezing them, cutting them, or cauterizing them. If you develop frequent skin tag growths, it may be worth making an annual appointment to have them all removed at once. Again, as emphasized earlier, these removal methods should only be practiced by medical professionals!

Although skin tags are harmless, it’s often a good idea to have any growths checked out by a dermatologist in case further treatment is needed. Sometimes, the occurrence of skin tags might not be a surface issue. A consultation might help find the underlying cause behind your skin tags and can help prevent further growths.

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