Skin tags are actually more common than people realize. Although they are not contagious, almost half of the world’s population is affected by them. Most people’s concern with skin tags is cosmetic. They may feel they are unattractive or embarrassing, especially when they are in a relatively visible spot, like the face. Although in this day in age our first concern is, are skin tags dangerous or not? Will they affect my health? Are they cancerous? What do they lead to?
Well, you will be pleased to know that skin tags are usually just benign growths that don’t pose any threat to your health. So there is little need to worry unless there is any sort of itching, irritation or change in the skin tags. But we will cover what to look out for a little further on.
This first step is identifying whether it is a skin tag or not. We have outlined here how to recognize a skin tag, the health risks associated with them and what to look out for.
Is this a skin tag?
Most often a skin tag is confused for a wart as both of them are visually similar. However, warts usually have a rough texture with a flatter outgrowth whereas skin tags have a smooth outer covering and are often dangling from the surface of the skin. Both warts and skin tags are usually skin colored, but skin tags can also be darker if blood is trapped in there.
Characteristics of a skin tag:
- Hanging from the skin
- Flesh colored but can be darker in some cases
- Smooth surface
- Usually the size of a grain of rice
The common areas for a skin tag to appear are the neck, groin, armpits and the eyelids.
Causes and risks of skin tags
Skin tags themselves are mostly benign and harmless. It’s what they indicate in some instances that you should be paying attention to.
Some of the possible causes of skin tags include:
- Diabetes or pre-diabetes
- Hormonal fluctuation
- Weight gain
Not all skin tags are a sign of an underlying issue. Often they just occur due to friction and collagen getting trapped in your skin, or due to genetics. These instances present no particular risk. The chances of developing skin tags increase with age, although adolescents and teenagers also do develop them, especially if they are active.
So whilst there is no reason to worry when you see a skin tag appearing; if you notice an outbreak of skin tags, it may be a sign of deteriorating health. In this case, it may be worth visiting your doctor to have some blood tests done.
Do skin tags cause a rash?
Despite being a frequently occurring condition there is rarely any chance for a skin tag to turn into anything severe. However, in rare cases, there is a possibility that they might become irritated and develop a rash in the surrounding area. This is usually due to you picking or scratching at the skin tag. If it is in an area that rubs against clothes or jewelry, this can also irritate the skin tag and cause a rash. The rash will usually subside with time if you take care not to cause the skin tag further irritation.
Is there any possibility of skin tags getting cancerous?
As we’ve mentioned, skin tags are benign growths. There is no direct link between skin tags and cancer. It might be that the thin skin flap that you think is a skin tag might be something entirely different. While there is a negligible chance of a skin tag being cancerous, we always advise being aware of any changes in growths on your skin. If you suspect that a growth may not be a skin tag and you notice any changes in size, color or condition of the of the growth, it is best to let your doctor decide if it requires further examination.
When to be concerned about your skin tags
A skin tag shouldn’t cause any pain or irritation when left alone. If your skin tag starts to “behave” differently, then we recommend you go have them checked out by your GP or dermatologist.
Changes to look out for:
- Twisted – If your skin tag gets twists and starts to change shape.
- Bleeding – If your skin tag starts to bleed on its own or bleed from being twisted or pulled
- Multiple skin tags appearing at once – The appearance of multiple skin tags at once can be a sign of an underlying health issue such as diabetes.
- Growth – Although skin tags are usually pretty small, in some cases, you may see them growing much larger.
Most of these changes occur because of the skin tag getting chaffed or irritated. Proper care of your skin tags is important to prevent further irritation.
Should you remove your skin tag
Considering most changes in skin tags are caused by irritation, many people choose to remove them before they become a nuisance. By removing a skin tag, you can avoid it getting twisted or bleeding if it sits in an area that experiences a lot of friction.
There are a number of removal methods available that can be used in the comfort of your home.
Ligation – By tying some dental floss around the base of the skin tag, you can cut off the blood supply to it, which will cause it to die and fall off. There are also easier methods of doing this, such as Tagbands, which has an easy-to-use device that places a micro elastic at the base of the skin tag, making the ligation method really simple.
Over-the-Counter Removal Creams -There is a range of different skin tag removal creams that with a few simple applications, will cause the skin tag to dry up and fall off.
Natural at Home Remedies – Products such as apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, and garlic, which you most likely already have at home, can be used quite effectively to remove skin tags. These options may take a little longer to work but are a great alternative if you would like to remove your skin tag naturally.
If you have a skin tag that has already become scratched or irritated, we suggest waiting until it has healed to remove it.
While skin tags are not dangerous, it is important to monitor any skin growth. If you are concerned about any changes to your skin tag, consult with your doctor.