Do Weight Gain and Hormonal Changes Cause Skin Tags?

Medically known as acrochordons, skin tags are tiny sacks of collagen fibers and blood vessels attached to the skin by a tiny stalk. They are benign skin growths – which means they pose no health risk unless they become infected, and this rarely happens. Depending on their size and location on the body, however, they can be irritating and painful, and can even be considered an annoying physical flaw that affects one’s self-confidence. 

Skin tags are soft and flesh-colored, although they can also have a slightly darker pigmentation than the surrounding skin and, therefore, stand out more (pun intended). Some individuals grow skin tags in clusters, which make these growths even more unsightly and bothersome. 

Two of the most common causes of skin tags are weight gain and hormonal changes. Let’s have a look at how these two culprits do their work. 

Skin Tags and Weight Gain

Increased skin friction, sweating, and chafing commonly experienced by people with excess weight are the factors that can result in skin tag formation. The greater surface area and extra folds of skin mean more skin-on-skin friction; increased body temperature which causes more sweating; and when you put all these together, chafing also occurs more frequently. Over time, skin tags form in these prone areas. 

The excess weight common among pre-diabetic individuals, as well as the insulin resistance they develop, combine to create conditions that lead to the development of skin tags. 

Skin Tags and Hormonal Changes

One study found a correlation between skin tags and the levels of estrogen and androgen receptors in areas of the body where skin tags usually develop. This supports the relationship between hormonal changes and increased likelihood of developing skin tags. Pregnant women can also attribute the sudden appearance of skin tags to the hormonal changes their body goes through. Likewise, women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is a hormonal imbalance, often develop skin tags. 

Why Are Certain Areas More Prone to Skin Tags Than Others?

In relation to weight gain, areas of the body where excess fats usually go are the same areas where skin tags commonly appear. This is because of the increased skin friction, sweating, and chafing that also occur. These areas include the neck, armpits, inner thighs, and waist.

Areas of the body where there are higher levels of hormonal secretions, such as the groin area and the neck, are also more likely to develop skin tags. 

Individuals who are neither overweight nor suffer from any hormonal imbalances but still develop skin tags can attribute the condition to other factors, such as a family history of skin tags or the skin’s constant exposure to friction (skin-to-skin or from tight clothing and accessories). 

Are Skin Tags Considered a Symptom of Obesity/Hormonal Imbalance?

Obesity is easily identifiable, but the sudden appearance of skin tags can serve as a reminder of the many other health risks that can arise from being overweight or obese. An overweight individual should not just want to treat their skin tags; they should want to prevent future ones from appearing by adopting a healthier lifestyle to lose weight and stay fit. While skin tags are harmless on their own, when they occur as a result of being overweight or obese, then they also become a serious indication of poor health which needs to be addressed. 

Fit African-American woman running up an outdoor stairs.

Hormonal imbalance often requires medical check-ups and testing to be properly diagnosed. However, certain symptoms are often indicative of the condition. Being overweight/obese is also a causative factor. 

In overweight/obese men, hormonal imbalance may mean higher than normal levels of estrogen (which they also produce) the most common symptom of which is the development of “man breasts.” In overweight/obese women, the extra secretions of testosterone often lead to the appearance of facial hair and thinning of head hair (or even male-pattern baldness). As previously mentioned, PCOS is also associated with hormonal imbalance in women. 

For both sexes, the sudden appearance of skin tags may also be indicative of hormonal imbalance. As these three conditions – being overweight/obese, hormonal imbalance, and skin tags – tend to co-occur, they may serve as serious health warnings by the body that we should listen to. 

Skin Tag Prevention and Treatment

If the appearance of skin tags is the result of being overweight/obese and/or hormonal changes, then they can be easily prevented and treated by treating the main cause. This means losing the extra weight and staying fit by eating healthy foods and exercising regularly; hormonal changes can also be addressed medically with a doctor’s recommendations, if necessary. 

Skin tag removal can likewise be done by a dermatologist. Options include freezing, surgical removal, electric cauterization, chemical peel, and laser surgery. There are home treatments that can be purchased over the counter, such as skin tag creams and ointments. 

Of course, taking better care of one’s health should not just be about getting rid of irritating and unsightly skin growths. Addressing the more serious health problems and committing to living healthfully will improve overall quality of life.