Any new growth on your skin can be a cause for concern, especially if it changes quickly. Given the danger of skin cancer, it’s important to have any new growth checked by a dermatologist.
Unlike certain types of moles that may appear on your body, skin tags are not cancerous.
However, it’s possible to mistake skin tags for other lesions that may be cancerous. Your dermatologist will ultimately determine whether this is the case.
Keep reading to learn more about skin tags and how they’re different from cancerous lesions.
A skin tag is a flesh-colored growth that can be thin and stalky looking or round in shape.
These growths can develop in many areas on your body. They’re most common in parts where friction is created from skin rubbing. As skin tags age, they may become red or brown in color.
Skin tags are often found in the following areas of the body:
No. Skin tags are benign growths that contain collagen, a type of protein found throughout the body, and blood vessels. Skin tags don’t require any treatment.
It’s possible for a cancerous growth to be mistaken for a skin tag. Skin tags generally stay small, while skin cancers can grow large and can often bleed and ulcerate.
Have your doctor check out any growth that bleeds or has different colors on it.
The following image gallery contains pictures of skin tags. These growths are not cancerous.
Anyone can develop a skin tag.
While skin tags can occur at any age, they seem to appear more frequently in adults who are 60 years or older.
Skin tags rarely pose a health concern, but you may choose to get skin tags removed for cosmetic reasons.
Discomfort and irritation are among the most common reasons for skin tag removal. However, skin tags are rarely painful unless they’re constantly rubbing against the folds of your skin.
Your doctor may also want to remove a skin growth if they suspect that it’s instead a skin cancer.
Skin tags usually don’t fall off on their own. The only way to completely remove skin tags is via professional procedures done by a dermatologist. Options for removal include:
- Surgery. Your doctor cuts off the skin tag with surgical scissors.
- Cryosurgery. This is a less invasive form of surgery. The skin tag is frozen with liquid nitrogen and then falls off the body within 2 weeks.
- Electrosurgery. Heat produced by an electrical current is used to remove the skin tag.
Over-the-counter products and home remedies may be other options if you want to try something less invasive, but there isn’t evidence to suggest they’re better than traditional means.
Talk to your doctor about the following before trying them:
- TagBand, a device that may be purchased at a drugstore for skin tag removal
- tea tree oil
- vitamin E lotion
- apple cider vinegar
It’s an urban myth that removing a skin tag will cause others to grow.
In some cases, skin tags may be related to underlying medical conditions. Some of the possible associated conditions include:
- Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome
- colonic polyps
- Crohn’s disease
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- lipid disorders
- metabolic syndrome
You may see more skin tags if you have any of these conditions, but having a skin tag doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop any one medical condition.
Small skin tags are usually considered to only pose cosmetic concerns. As they enlarge, though, skin tags may be prone to irritation. They can also get caught on clothing and other items, such as jewelry, which can make them bleed.
Skin tags are common, noncancerous skin growths. It’s also possible (when self-diagnosing) to misdiagnose a skin tag.
As a rule of thumb, see a dermatologist if you develop any unusual growths on your skin. The situation may be more urgent if a skin growth dramatically increases in size or changes its shape and color in a short amount of time.
Even if a skin tag isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, you may choose to have it removed for comfort and aesthetic reasons.
Talk to your doctor about all your options, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions that could increase your risk for developing additional skin tags in the future.
If you don’t already have a dermatologist, our Healthline FindCare tool can help you connect to physicians in your area.