45 Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Skin Tags

Skin tags, also known as acrochordons, are actually small and harmless growths. They have similarities with other skin problems when it comes to their appearance, thus they often are confused with skin problems such as warts and cherry angiomas.

To distinguish a skin tag, you have to know that it has a stalk that connects it to the skin. Additionally, skin tags are usually seen on the face, eyelids, neck, armpits, and anus. 

Skin Tags Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the frequently asked questions concerning skin tags and their respective answers:

Q: How Do You Define Skin Tags? 

A: Skin tags are small tumors on the skin that are connected to a person’s body through a thin stalk or peduncle. They are composed of a group of collagen and vessels of blood confined in thick skin. 

Q: What Causes a Skin Tag? 

A: The real cause of skin tags is unknown, but here are some risk factors that scientists believe to contribute to their growth:

  • Friction as they are most usually seen in skin creases (e. g. groin)
  • Obese people get them more often due to the fact that they have more skin folds.
  • Age is also a factor since as you age your skin gets loose, you gain weight, and hormonal changes are inevitable
  • Women who are pregnant can also be affected by skin tags due to weight and hormonal changes
  • Steroid users are at risk as well since steroids increase the number of collagen in a person’s body
  • Genetics
  • HPV virus
  • Diabetes

Q: How do Skin Tags Look Like at the Beginning? 

A: At first, skin tags are just small bumps without stalks. Most of them only have a diameter of 2 to 3 mm. In time, they progress and develop in size. 

Q: What are the other Terms for a Skin Tag? 

A: Here are other terms for a skin tag according to health care professionals:

  • Acrochordon
  • Fibroepithelial polyp
  • Fibroma molle
  • Fibro vascular papilloma
  • Skin polyp
  • Soft fibroma

Q: Are They Going to Develop in Size? 

A: Yes, these tags begin small and develop in size in time. It is the flow of blood that assists the growth of skin tags, and frequent friction tends to make them bigger. 

In fact, a few people get skin tags that are as big as grapes in the neck and underarms. If you observe that you have a growing skin tag, go see your doctor or you can also choose to remove your skin tags at home. 

Q: Will Skin Tags Bleed? 

A: Yes, they will bleed if they get too irritated. For example, while shaving, you might cut a skin tag accidentally. This can cause them to bleed unnecessary.

Another example is when you carry a heavy backpack and it rubs against a skin tag. Moreover, if a skin tag is in the groin and you often go biking, this can also be a problem. 

A woman free from skin tags

Q: Can Skin Tags Grow Back? 

A: Skin tags won’t grow back as long as they have been completely removed. Nevertheless, a person who is at risk of developing them can develop new skin tags in the same area or on other parts of the body. Completely removing them doesn’t wholly mean that you will not grow them again. 

Q: Are They Harmful? 

A: No, skin tags are not harmful. While they are skin tumors, they are benign and are not harmful to the body. Nevertheless, they can sometimes be embarrassing to have. 

Q: Do They Indicate that a Person Has Diabetes? 

A: Yes, skin tags can be early signs that you have diabetes. Neck skin tags can indicate that you are pre-diabetic. Pre-diabetes makes your body resistant to insulin. When you become insulin-resistant, your body will compensate and give out more insulin until your pancreas gets overused. This is the pathophysiology of Type 2 diabetes.

If you see a group of skin tags in your neck, it is better to go see your doctor so you could undergo some lab tests. 

Q: Can Skin Tags Be Prevented from Growing? 

A: Risk factors should be considered when you desire to avoid the growth of skin tags. Risk factors involve things weight, hormonal changes, fitting clothes, and friction. Losing weight is one effective way to prevent the growth of skin tags. Losing some pounds will allow you to lessen the skin folds or creases in your body. 

The clothes you wear also affect the development of skin tags. If you are used to wearing fit clothing, you will be more at risk for skin tags. Instead of wearing tight clothes, wear more breathable clothes that don’t cause a lot of friction.

You can use powder for areas that are prone to friction such as the areas under the breasts or all over the neck to keep them dry. 

Q: Can Skin Tags Develop into Cancer? 

A: It is natural for people to worry about cancer. An unusual bump or mole can be a sign of cancer. The good news is, skin tags are benign, and there’s no evidence to show that skin tags can develop into cancer. 

If you are not sure about your skin problem, it’s wise to go see your doctor. The right diagnosis is important, and you should observe changes in color and quick changes in size. 

Q: Can You Acquire Skin Tags from HPV? 

A: There is no sure evidence about this case yet. Scientists believe that the HPV (human papillomavirus) is somehow connected to skin tags, yet not in all cases. 

A lot of people get confused with skin tags and warts. The common cause of warts is HPV, and most often they need to be cauterized to be removed. Skin tags are somehow just linked to HPV with many factors to consider.

Q: How Do You Distinguish a Skin Tag from a Wart? 

A: Though skin tags and warts do almost look the same, they are totally different problems of the skin. HPV is the most common cause of warts. The virus facilitates an abnormal growth of cells which causes warts. Warts are rougher in surface compared to skin tags, and they are typically just like bumps or can also be flat. Moreover, they are very contagious. 

Even if evidence are not yet clear concerning the cause of skin tags, doctors are sure that warts are not associated with skin tags.

Q: Are Skin Tags Contagious? 

A: No, skin tags are not contagious since they are not viral. On the other hand, genital warts that look like skin tags are very contagious. If skin tags are what you have, then you don’t have to worry about spreading it to other persons.

Q: Why is Pregnancy a Risk Factor? 

A: A lot of pregnant women observe the development of skin tags on their bodies. One reason for this is the inevitability of hormonal changes that happen within the body. A pregnant woman can’t control the things that pregnancy does to her such as food cravings, mood changes, and more. Therefore, hormonal changes can be the cause of the growth of skin tags.

Another reason is that pregnant women normally gain weight. Areas such as the armpit, below the breasts, below the stomach, and the area around the pelvis are at risk. Increased weight, friction, and more blood flow in these areas will make a pregnant woman more at risk for skin tags.

A woman undergoing a skin checkup

Q: Why Do Skin Tags Turn Black? 

A: If you see skin tags that have become black, you don’t have to panic and worry about them. There is actually nothing wrong with your skin tag.

Black skin tags are tags that have lost their blood supply. That only means that your skin tags are dying and are most likely going to be gone in a few days. Black skin tags usually fall off from your body on their own. 

They are what you call as thrombosed or clotted skin tags. They are mostly seen in women after their pregnancies when their bodies start to return to their normal hormonal functions.

Q: Can Skin Tags turn Red?

A: Typically, skin tags have the same color as your skin, but there are cases where skin tags become red in color. The following are some reasons why this happens:

  • It may have become irritated
  • If you are used to wearing very fit clothing
  • Frequent friction at a specific location of the skin tag
  • It could also be an indication that there is more blood flow to the tag which can also cause the skin tag to grow bigger
  • It could be because of infection 

Even if skin tags are harmless, they can still be a burden for people who care so much about their skin. Once you feel your skin tag becomes painful, red, and inflamed, it is better to visit a dermatologist or a doctor. They are the best people to ask advice from and provide you with the treatment you need to remove infected skin tags.

Q: Is it Okay to Pop a Skin Tag? 

A: People often question if it is okay to burst or pop their skin tags. The reason behind these questions comes from the idea that pimples and boils can be popped too. Pimples and boils usually contain pus, and pus should be removed for the skin to heal. Therefore, popping and bursting tags are ideas that also come up inside peoples’ minds.

Nevertheless, skin tags do not contain pus and don’t need to be popped. The reality is, skin tags contain a lot of blood. Therefore, wounding skin tags cannot help with healing as well as draining unnecessary fluid. This will only make it painful and bleed.

A variety of treatments are available to effectively remove skin tags. Unfortunately, popping and bursting are not part of them.

Q: Are Skin Tags Always Painful? 

A: Normally, skin tags shouldn’t be painful, and they don’t have side effects that will cause you pain.

However, in some situations, skin tags can become painful due to some obvious reasons. This happens when skin tags are caught in between, cut, or injured in any way.

Skin tags become soft and painful if they get cut while you are shaving or when you keep on wearing fitting clothes that often irritates the area affected. The pain will lessen in a short period of time, but make sure you keep it from getting irritated or getting rubbed all the time.

Q: Can Genetics be the Cause of Skin Tags? 

A: There are some hereditary factors that do contribute to the growth of these tags. If you have family members or close relatives with skin tags, it’s is more likely that you will get them too.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will most surely get them because there are also other factors to consider such as weight, resistance to insulin, and hormonal changes. To make it clear, if your parents or grandparents have these tags, then your risk of having them is high.

Q: What is the Meaning Behind Having Skin Tags?

A: Typically, skin tags are not an indication that you have an underlying condition. However, they can indicate in some way that you have pre-diabetes or hyperinsulinemia. In reality, most adults suffer from the problem of having skin tags due to friction in areas of the body where there are more skin folds.

Skin tags can even be treated at the comforts of your home, and it is not necessary to go see a doctor as long as there is no infection. It is advisable to see a doctor when your skin tags are located in difficult to treat areas such as the genitals and the eyelids.

Q: Will Skin Tags Die on Their Own? 

A: This case happens often after pregnancy. As mentioned above, pregnant women are prone to developing these tags, yet they can die off on their own when hormonal functions become normal again.

This happens when the levels of progesterone and estrogen are normal again. Therefore, skin tags usually die off after pregnancy.

In other circumstances, skin tags don’t die unless they have a loss of blood flow through twisting or tying. Therefore, if your skin tags are not caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy, then you’ll have to remove them yourself or just leave them there. 

Q: What are the Ways to Remove Skin Tags? 

A: There are actually many ways to remove skin tags from your body. You can ask for help from a doctor or you can do it yourself at home.

The following are a few of the most used ways to remove skin tags:

  • You can tie the skin tag’s base using a piece of dental floss to prevent it from receiving a supply of blood and allow it to just die off. This method is called ligation. Most people prefer using sterile TagBand.
  • If a skin tag has a very thin base, you can just cut it off using scissors that are sterile. This process is painful, so others prefer doctors to do the procedure after the area is being numbed. Removal through surgery can be a cause of scarring.
  • Cryotherapy or cauterization can be performed by your doctor or you can even do it by yourself. This can remove the skin tag and cause some discoloration of your skin. 

Q: How Can Tea Tree Oil help remove Skin Tags?

A: Tea tree oil can actually help get rid of a group of skin tags. It helps dry out skin tags for some time, giving them a difficult time to get oxygen supply from the body’s blood flow. It’s very safe to use as it is natural and will not cost you a lot.

Q: How Can I Effectively Remove Skin Tags on My Underarms?

A: Skin tags tend to develop on armpits due to sweat and friction. Applying tea tree oil is one of the most practical ways to remove skin tags under your arms. It is very possible that they will die off in a span of weeks. Another way is to ask help from a friend to tie the skin tag off. Alternatively, you can also ask help from a doctor if the areas where your skin tags are located are a bit tricky.

Q: Can You Simply Cut Off Skin Tags?

A: Yes, it is possible, but make sure the area with skin tags is clean and numb. It’s a requirement that the equipment you use should be sterilized to prevent infection.

Skin tags will bleed after you’ve cut them off. Therefore, it is important to use a clean gauze for pressure applications on the area. Use a bandage to cover the wounded area for at least 2 days. Don’t do this on areas that are sensitive and visible.

Q: Is It Possible to Freeze Off Skin Tags?

A: This is an option some doctors will suggest if you seek advice from them. Cryotherapy items are also available on shops if you want to deal with these skin tags yourself.

Q: What are the Procedures that a Dermatologist Do to Remove Skin Tags?

A: The following are conventional ways that a dermatologist would perform to get rid of skin tags:

  • Cryotherapy or freezing it off
  • Cutting off skin tags using sterile tools or proceed with the “ligation method” to prevent the skin tag from receiving blood flow. 
  • Cauterization
  • Laser treatment

Q: Are Wart Removers Also Effective for Removing Skin Tags?

A: You can actually use removers for warts for skin tags. These removers are composed of salicylic acid that will cause skin tissues to break. In time, skin tags will become smaller and eventually disappear. This depends on the wart remover you use as some may be more effective than others.

Q: How Much Money Do You Have to Spend Just to Remove Skin Tags? 

A: This wholly depends on what method you choose to use. There are options that will cost you less money such as the TagBand, or you could also pay at a minimum of $20 for a remover that is DIY. Out of 20 tested products, only 5 of them produce acceptable results.

The cost of being treated by a doctor varies from one doctor to another. Just expect to pay a minimum of 100 dollars. Unfortunately, skin tags are not usually covered by health insurance companies.

Q: How Long Should I Wait for a Skin Tag to Die Off?

A: If you did something about your skin tag such as tying it off, and you are patiently waiting for the tag to die off, it will possibly die within a week. It depends from case to case as some will die in a span of 4 to 5 days. Factors such as the size and how you’ve performed the tying will affect the result.

If you are on the natural alternative side, only a few of these methods work. The only one that is known to be effective is the tea tree oil, and it will take a minimum of 3 weeks for these tags to fall off. Cutting a skin tag will remove it instantly, but it will be bleeding and painful, leaving you a scar.

Q: How Long Do Skin Tags Heal After Getting Removed?

A: Some skin tags might take weeks for scabs to be completely removed. Just make sure you don’t irritate the premature scab. The fact is that the faster you remove a skin tag, the slower it will heal. One example is an excision which instantly gets rid of a skin tag. However, it will take much longer for the skin tag to heal. Applying aloe vera on the area affected can help with the healing process.

Q: Should I Rest After the Removal?

A: The procedure won’t require much of your energy so you can get back to your daily routine immediately. However, there are some who take some rest until removed skin tags are no longer visible.

An eye that is free from skin tags

Q: Is it Okay to Shower After the Removal of Skin Tags?

A: It is advisable to keep your skin tags from getting exposed within 24 to 72 hours by covering it using a bandage. After 72 hours, take off the bandage and use warm water to clean the affected skin. It’s okay to shower right after the removal procedure, but just be careful with the area affected and use room temperature water.

Q: Are Women with PCOS Prone to Having Skin Tags? 

A: On average, 1 out of 10 women have PCOS, and many of them are prone to developing skin tags. PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The reason behind this is that PCOS is closely associated with insulin resistance. That is why women with this problem are at risk of having skin tags. 

Q: When Should I Take Skin Tags Seriously? 

A: As mentioned repeatedly, skin tags are harmless. You need not worry about skin tags as long as they are not causing you some major irritation. Also, if your skin tags have grown near your eyes or on your face, they can affect your vision or can be painful when you eat or speak. 

Moreover, if skin tags are often bleeding in areas where they experience constant friction, you should consider having it removed by your doctor. 

Q: Is it Okay to Just Leave Them? 

A: Yes, it is okay to leave them as long as your skin tag isn’t that visible and is not painful and irritated. However, if skin tags grow bigger and start to cause you pain due to irritation, it is advisable to have removal. A majority of people who consider removal do it solely for cosmetics.

Q: What Are the Natural Remedies that will help me Get Rid of Skin Tags? 

A: Tea tree oil, as mentioned above, is an effective way to treat skin tags. Even if this is not true about everyone, there are still many stories of success that support this treatment. 

There are also other products you can use for skin tags that are natural and organic such as VCO (Virgin Coconut Oil) and ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar), but there is not enough supporting evidence for these two remedies. 

Q: Does It Mean You Are Unhealthy When You Have Them? 

A: Not really, since skin tags can also develop in pregnant women who are having hormonal changes. They can also grow in places that are prone to friction such as skin folds. They can also be a sign that you are unhealthy if the factors that cause you to have them are being overweight and insulin-resistant. Not all cases are the same. You will know yourself when changes in diet and lifestyle are necessary. 

Q: Is it Okay to Pull Off a Skin Tag? 

A: Most of the time, skin tags are a bit loose, contain flesh, and are very flexible. For that reason, people usually think that it’s okay to just pull off a skin tag from the body. However, it is not advisable to pull off skin tags. By pulling them off, your skin tags might become sore and infected. Pulling them off will also make them more visible. 

Q: What If a Skin Tag Keep Bleeding? 

A: If your skin tag has been caught or ripped, or you’ve cut it off purposely or accidentally, it might continue to bleed for a period of time. If this happens, you should put pressure on the affected area for a minimum of 10 minutes. Let it reach that time before you check if it has stopped bleeding. If it still continues to bleed, you should go see your doctor immediately. 

Q: Can Skin Tags Grow Near your Anus? 

A: Yes, they are what you call “rectal skin tags”. Oftentimes, they are confused with warts and hemorrhoids. Most people address the problem thinking that they have hemorrhoids when in fact what they have are skin tags.

Skin tags on your anus are removed similarly with other skin tags on other parts of the body. It is recommended that you ask for help from a doctor because this area is very sensitive. Assistance from medical professionals is necessary, especially if skin tags are inside the butt hole.

Q: Is it Painful to Undergo Skin Tag Removal? 

A: Many factors are to be considered when it comes to pain. When removing a big skin tag, it is expected that removing them would be a bit painful. The reason is that a group of nerve endings is affected and the tag can also be filled with blood.

The same is true if you are getting rid of skin tags in delicate areas such as the genitals and the anus. The majority who have undergone removal in these sensitive areas experience pain during and also after the procedure. 

The method used to remove them is also a factor that will affect pain. Moreover, people have different pain tolerance levels. In several cases, pain is only mild and will not really last long. Just remember to never remove skin tags that are infected. 

Q: Are Skin Tags Itchy? 

A: If your skin tags don’t bother you much, then they’re not that much of a concern. Meanwhile, if you keep on wearing fit clothing or if you allow them to get caught on some things, they can be itchy. Itchiness will then lead to swelling and soreness in the affected area. 

It is normal for a skin tag to itch when it is in the process of healing. It is another story if you experience this by having STD (sexually transmitted disease). It is better to go see your doctor if itchiness is present near your genitals or anus. The right diagnosis is very important, yet it is hard to notice skin tags that are located in areas that are hard to see. 

Q: Can Removal Lead to Scarring? 

A: When you wound your skin, as a result of the removal, there is always a chance that scarring will be present, especially when it has healed. If you are concerned about this, avoid surgical removal on areas of the body and face where skin tags are visibly seen. Also, don’t remove premature scabs and just leave them to fall off in time.

We hope this article has helped you with the questions you had in mind concerning skin tags!