Skin Tags 101: What are These Weird Little Body Growths?

If you get skin tags – the annoying skin growths that commonly catch on clothing or jewelry – take solace you’re not alone.

Some estimates claim as many as 45 percent of the adult population are prone to skin tags. While they’re not a medical emergency, they can be perplexing, especially if you’re a skin tag neophyte. The medical term for a skin tag is acrochordon or fibroepithelial polyp. They’re benign skin lesions made up of skin tissue and fat. They can happen to anyone, and they can run in families. They’re a common dermatologic concern, said Dr. Kasia Masterpol, a dermatologist at Winchester Hospital. She answered some skin tag 101 questions for our readers.

1. What causes skin tags?

No one really knows what causes them. Some theories maintain skin tags are associated with areas of friction. They are also associated with obesity.

2. Are they ever/do they turn dangerous (thinking cancer or the like)?

No, true skin tags are benign.

3. What areas of the body are most prone to them?

They’re most commonly seen in areas with skin folds such as around the neck, underarms and groin areas.

4. What’s the removal process like?

The procedure for removing skin tags depends on the growth’s size, location, and someone’s skin tone. The most popular options are freezing them off or cutting them off after local anesthesia.

5. Are people successful using at-home methods of removal? Is this something doctors would either recommend or caution against?

There is no consistently successful topical home method. Physical removal may work, but a person risks bleeding, infection, and pain when trying at-home methods.

6. What is the biggest physical problem when it comes to skin tags?

Because there is a predilection for skin folds, skin tags can sometimes become irritated or inflamed.

7. Is there any way to prevent them?

No. Unless in the case of them being associated with obesity, then weight loss could theoretically prevent more lesions.

8. Do women and met get them equally?

Yes.

9. Do children get them?

They are not often seen in children.

For more information on skin tags, speak with your Lahey Health physician.

*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

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