Skin tags (acrochordons) are not cancerous, though you may mistake some cancerous growths for skin tags. Skin tags typically stay small, while skin cancer may grow and change.
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 a dermatologist check out any new skin growth.
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. A dermatologist can determine whether a skin growth is cancerous.
Keep reading to learn more about skin tags and how they differ from cancerous lesions.
A skin tag is a flesh-colored growth on the skin. It can be thin looking or round. A skin tag can look like it’s dangling from a stalk.
Skin tags tend to be
These growths can develop in many areas of your body. They commonly form in parts where friction is created from skin rubbing against skin, clothing, or jewelry. As skin tags age, they may become darker.
Skin tags are often found in the following areas of the body:
No, skin tags are not cancerous.
Skin tags are benign growths that contain blood vessels and collagen. Collagen is a type of protein found throughout the body.
Skin tags don’t require any treatment.
It’s possible to mistake a cancerous growth for a skin tag. Skin tags generally stay small, but skin cancers can grow large and bleed.
If a growth changes in size or color, itches, bleeds, or has a nonsymmetrical shape, consider getting it checked out by a dermatologist.
The following image gallery contains pictures of skin tags. These growths are not cancerous.
Anyone can develop a skin tag. You may be more likely to develop skin tags if other blood relatives have them.
While skin tags can occur at any age, they typically appear in adults ages 20–70 years.
Skin tags rarely pose a health concern. However, you may choose to remove your skin tags for cosmetic reasons or if they block your eyesight.
People typically remove skin tags due to discomfort and irritation, though they’re often not painful unless they’re rubbing against the folds of your skin or catching on jewelry or clothing.
A doctor may also want to remove a skin growth if they suspect skin cancer.
The only way to completely remove skin tags is via professional procedures done by a dermatologist. Options for removal include:
- Surgery: A doctor cuts off the skin tag with surgical scissors or a razor, such as a DermaBlade.
- Cryosurgery: The skin tag is frozen with liquid nitrogen and then falls off the body with the scab several days later.
- Electrosurgery: Dermatologists use heat from an electrical current to remove the skin tag.
Do not use over-the-counter products or home remedies to remove skin growths. They can potentially cause an infection, serious bleeding, or delay a skin cancer diagnosis.
In some cases, skin tags may be related to underlying medical conditions. Some of the possible associated conditions include:
- Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome
- rectal cancer and anal skin tags, according to a
2016 case study
- 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. Larger 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.
How do you know if a skin tag is cancerous?
Skin tags are not cancerous. But if you have a skin growth that changes in size or color, itches or bleeds, or has an asymmetrical shape, it may be best to have a dermatologist look at it.
What does a malignant skin tag look like?
Skin tags are benign growths, though you can mistake a different skin growth for a skin tag. If your skin growth changes in size or color, itches or bleeds, or has an asymmetrical shape, it may be a good idea to get it checked for skin cancer.
Can a skin tag be cancerous?
Skin tags are not cancerous, but other types of skin growths, like moles, can be.
When should I be worried about skin tags?
If your skin tag bleeds, gets irritated, or blocks your vision, it may be best to have a doctor remove it. You can also choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons.
Skin tags are common, noncancerous skin growths. It’s also possible when self-diagnosing to misdiagnose a skin tag.
As a rule of thumb, visit a dermatologist if you develop any unusual growths on your skin or notice any changes in your skin growths.
You may choose to have a skin tag removed for comfort and cosmetic reasons.
If you don’t already have a dermatologist, our Healthline FindCare tool can help you connect to physicians in your area.