Many people have been asking me about skin tags. As far as skin blemishes are concerned, skin tags are one of the most annoying. This is so because most of the time they don’t go away like other skin problems do, like acne.
I know they can be frustrating to have, and you’ll be reminded they are there every time you look in the mirror. When I first got them, I wasn’t even sure what they were. After learning they were skin tags, I still had a lot of unknowns about them. Because of all these reasons, skin tags can raise many questions. I decided to write this blog post and address the most common questions you might have about skin tags.
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Skin Tags Questions and Answers
What Are Skin Tags?
Skin tags are growths on your skin. They are connected to the base of your skin by a stalk. They can appear anywhere but are mostly found around the neck, chest, armpit and thigh areas. Most of the time skin tags are painless and are not a danger to you. Even though they don’t require treatment, people have them removed at the dermatologist for cosmetic reasons. I wrote a whole blog post on skin tags that goes in complete detail. If you’re interested here’s the link.
What Are Skin Tags Caused By?
People with skin tags have common traits and there are studies showing an association between skin tags and some medical issues. The first is insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes. There are studies showing a link between insulin resistance and diabetes. In one study involving 98 people with multiple skin tags, the researchers found a strong association with insulin resistance regardless of other risk factors (resource).
Another reason is hormonal imbalances and pregnancy. Women development an increase in estrogen and leptin hormones during pregnancy. Studies have shown a connection between skin tags and hormones. One study (resource) concluded there was an association between skin tags and estrogen levels. Another study (resource) showed an association between the pregnancy hormone, leptin, and skin tags. I wrote a blog post on skin tags during pregnancy which also explains how to prevent skin tags while pregnant. You can check it out by clicking here.
A hormonal disorder, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POS), occurs when some hormone levels get too high. There is a long list of POS symptoms and skin tags are one of them (resource). Menopause is another one of those times when hormone levels are changed. Between the hormones and some other possible skin issues, skin tags may form as a result.
Skin friction is another possible cause of skin tags. This can occur by skin rubbing on other skin or tight clothing and jewelry rubbing on skin. This is one possible reason why skin tags are found around clothing lines, neck and around skin folds.
How To Remove Skin Tags Naturally?
The first way to prevent skin tags naturally is through diet. A diet low in added sugars and carbohydrates is beneficial for removing skin tags. Because added sugars and excess carbs can raise insulin levels, avoiding them can help prevent skin tags (resource). By making some simple adjustments to your diet can help and keep body-fat levels lower. This can help prevent extra skin folds and friction against your skin. Some people prefer the Keto diet, which I wrote about here, and how it can help you with your skin tags.
Another way to avoid skin tags naturally is by wearing looser clothing and jewelry. Tight clothing like bra straps or collars around the neck, both cause repeated skin friction. In addition, tight jewelry can have the same affect and also irritate existing skin tags.
Exercise can help with your skin tags by keeping body fat levels lower. Staying active 20 to 30 minutes everyday can help you avoid obesity and skin folds.
In areas where you may have skin rubbing on other skin, like your thighs and armpits, apply baby powder to reduce friction and keep your skin dry. Another natural method that worked for me and my spouse works sometimes in as little as 3 days. You can read my review about it right here.
Are Skin Tags Dangerous?
Most of the time, a skin tag is not dangerous and can be left alone. Skin tags are not cancerous and cannot become cancer like a mole can. There are times where skin tags can become irritated because of repeated friction by tight clothing or jewelry. I’ve seen some skin tags get so bad they start to bleed and won’t heal because of the constant rubbing. There’s a chance those skin tags can become infected. If this is happening to you, please visit a dermatologist and have them removed.
Sometimes people get skin tags confused with a mole. This can be dangerous to you because if you have a mole, that you think is a harmless skin tag, it may be cancerous and requires immediate attention by a doctor. If you’re unsure what you have, go to a doctor and get it examined. You’re always better safe than sorry. I wrote a blog post you may want to read explaining the difference between skin tags and moles. You can check it out by clicking right here, Difference Between Skin Tags and Moles.
Why Do I Suddenly Have Skin Tags?
I know this has happened to me. I wake up, take a shower and look into the mirror, when I’m getting ready going to work. And what do I see? A number of skin tags I never saw before. All of a sudden they are growing like weeds and most of the time you don’t know why. This can happen because of a change inside your body and the following reasons:
- Insulin resistance
- Hormonal imbalance
- Extra weight gain
- Skin friction
If you’re unsure, visit a doctor and make sure your health is okay. If you don’t have a doctor or you need affordable health insurance right for you, check out this great plan many people I know have used.
What Do Skin Tags Look Like?
Skin tags are usually small balls of skin that hang off your skin by a stalk. The stalk can be narrow or wide at the base where it connects to your skin. Sometimes the skin tag is more like a flap of skin than a ball. Typically, it is the same color of your skin, but there are times a skin tag can be dark or turn darker over time. If you want to know why it turns darker, you can read my black skin tag blog post by clicking here.
It’s less common, but sometimes a skin tag can be a raised bump on the skin. Most of the time a skin tag grows to about 2mm to 5mm in size but can be bigger or smaller. Some of them can be smooth on the surface or appear wrinkled.
Are Skin Tags Hereditary?
Skin tags are not always hereditary and can occur because of the reasons I mentioned earlier in this post like pregnancy. But there are times, the development of skin tags can be due to a genetic predisposition. There are medical conditions, like obesity, hormonal imbalances, diabetes and Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome that can be genetic (1,2,3,4). Each one of these conditions have been shown in studies to be associated with skin tags (1,2,3,4). If you want to read more about skin tags and genetics, I wrote an article about it in this same website right here.
How Much Is a Skin Tag Removal Cost?
The cost can differ especially if you have insurance or whether insurance is going to cover your removal. I survey and keep track of how much people pay at the dermatologist for a removal not covered by insurance. So far, the average cost is approximately $150. The lower end of the range is $100 and the higher end of the range is $400. Many factors come into play that affect the cost. Location, how many, the size and the removal method chosen, all affect the amount of money it’s going to cost you.
Most of the time insurance will not cover the cost to remove your skin tags. This typically happens if you want them removed for cosmetic reasons only. But if your skin tag is creating a problem, like pain or irritation, most times the insurance covers it and you have to pay whatever copay is required by your health plan.
Why Do I Have Red Skin Tags?
There are times skin tags can appear red but I think most of the time people are getting it confused with cherry angiomas. Cherry angiomas are little red dots that grow on most of your body. They appear more on people after they reach age 30 or older. They are not typically a concern unless they change size, shape or color.
Skin tags can get reddish looking if they are being rubbed on constantly. This can happen because of tight clothing or jewelry. If you have a skin blemish and you’re not sure what it is, visit a doctor and get it checked out.
What Are The Methods a Dermatologist Uses For a Skin Tag Removal?
Most of the time a doctor will use one of the 3 common methods to remove your skin tag. The number of skin tags, location and size can all determine what choice the doctor uses. I wrote about the potential risks when NOT choosing a dermatologist in this blog post.
Cryotherapy: This is the method when a doctor freezes your skin tag off. They will spray the skin tag with cold liquid nitrogen. The extreme cold will kill off the cells of the skin tag causing it to fall off a few days to a week later. Cryotherapy typically does not involve any preparation and will sting a little when applied. I always find it amazing the temperature of the liquid nitrogen is about 320 degrees below zero. It make me cold thinking about it.
Cauterization: This method involves using a cautery tool to burn off your skin tag. The doctor will use an injection first to numb your skin tag. Then they will hold your skin tag with a tweezer and then burn through the stalk of your skin tag where it attaches to the skin. The heat is then used to help stop the bleeding and close off the wound. Since your skin tag is burned off, it’s instantly gone. A topical ointment will be applied and covered with a bandage.
Surgically removing it: The doctor will numb your skin tag with an injection and then snip or cut it off. Depending on the type of skin tag, they will use a scalpel or surgical scissors. Sometimes a stitch or two is required to stop the bleeding and allow it to heal.
What Are Home Remedies For Skin Tags?
Disclaimer: Before trying any home method to remove a skin tag, contact a doctor first for a consultation.
There are many home remedies people are trying to remove skin tags at home. I’ve tried them all and found most of them to be ineffective or not work at all. Like, do you really think a banana skin will remove your skin tag? I’ll tell you right now it didn’t work on me. In addition to the banana skin, I tried the following with negative results and a lot of aggravation:
- Banana skin
- Apple cider vinegar: Which by the way can be very dangerous if not done properly. People are getting chemical burns as a result. There’s 2 specific stories I tell you about, one involving a mother trying apple cider vinegar on her 8 year old son, in my blog post which you can read about right here.
- Tea tree Oil
- Castor oil and baking soda
- Duct tape
- Crushed garlic
- Or any combination of the above mixed together
Another home remedy, which happens to work for me every time, is the tying off method. This involves using dental floss or fine string. You tie the string tightly around the base of the skin tag. This will cut off the blood supply and cause it to fall off in about a week to 10 days. There are certain tips and tricks to help make it more effective and prevent a lot of wasted time. I explain all of them in my free skin tag ebook, which you can download instantly from this website right here.
What’s The Connection Between Skin Tags and Diabetes?
Having diabetes comes with a huge number of related problems. Like they weren’t enough, can skin tags be one of them? Having diabetes doesn’t mean you’ll get skin tags and having skin tags doesn’t mean you have diabetes. But there are studies showing a connection between the two and how having skin tags can be useful in making an early diagnosis of diabetes (resource).
I have researched and found at least 6 different studies that link either diabetes or insulin resistance to skin tags. In one study (resource) they compared 2 groups of people, one with skin tags and one without. The researchers concluded the group with skin tags had a higher frequency of diabetes and the presence of skin tags was important for an early diagnosis of diabetes.
Another study (resource) involved 98 people who had 6 skin tags or more. Their purpose was to evaluate any link between skin tags and insulin resistance. The researchers found skin tags were strongly associated with insulin resistance.
For this question and answer blog post, I’m not going to bore you with the remaining studies. If you want to read them all and learn what causes skin tags in people with diabetes, check out my blog post Skin Tags and Diabetes.
Are There Cancerous Skin Tags?
With absolute pleasure, I can tell you there are no skin tags cancerous. In addition, your non-cancerous skin tags are not in any danger of becoming cancerous. With all the negative information there is about skin tags, at least this is good news! Just one word of caution, moles can be cancerous. I’m mentioning this because sometimes people get skin tags and moles confused. I wrote a blog post about both of them and their differences, which you can read right here if interested.
How To Prevent Skin Tags?
You can do certain things which will help you prevent skin tags. In addition, knowing risk factors of skin tags can help you more. The following are skin tag risk factors:
- Family history: Typically if your parents have skin tags, there is a higher probability you will too. Part of this reason is some conditions associated with skin tags are hereditary.
- People who have diabetes or insulin resistance.
- People with hormonal imbalances.
- People with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). It’s a viral infection passed from one person to another through skin contact.
- Pregnancy: Typically this is due to an increase in pregnancy hormones and weight gain.
The following are things you can do to help prevent skin tags:
Avoid skin friction from other skin: Excess fat and skin folds can cause extra skin on skin rubbing. This can happen anywhere to extra body fat, underarms or thigh areas. You can apply baby powder in those area which can help reduce the friction. In addition, losing body fat will reduce the fat skin folds around your body.
Avoid skin friction from clothes and jewelry: Extra tight clothing or jewelry causes constant rubbing on the skin where your clothes or jewelry are. This is one of the reasons why skin tags are found around waist lines, neck, chest and bra straps.
Follow a healthier diet: This will reduce your body weight and skin folds. In addition, a diet low in added sugars can help reduce insulin spikes which can cause skin tags in people who have insulin resistance.
Physical activity: Exercise can reduce body fat and possibly prevent other medical conditions associated with skin tags.
Are Skin Tags Caused By Hormones?
Not always but studies have shown an association between skin tags and hormonal imbalances. This is why many women get skin tags during pregnancy. Research has shown an increase in estrogen and leptin hormone levels results in a higher frequency of skin tags (1,2).
One of the symptoms in the hormonal disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POS), is skin tags. POS is when levels of certain hormones are extremely high. Symptoms can include acne, excess hair growth, obesity and menstrual irregularity. In one study (resource) 10% of the women with POS had skin tags.
What Causes Skin Tags On Neck?
Skin tags on the neck can be caused by a hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance, obesity or skin friction. Tight clothing around the neck causes excess, repeated friction on the skin. Every time you move your head, the tight collar rubs on your skin.
The hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance come from within your body. The obesity can cause extra skin folds around your neck which causes skin on skin friction. Sometimes a combination of being overweight and a hormone or insulin problem can contribute to the development of a skin tag. I covered 5 ways to get rid of skin tags on the neck in a blog post I wrote in this site. If you’re interested, you can check it out right here.
What Are Dark Skin Tags?
Sometimes people get alarmed when a skin tag is darker than their skin or other skin tags. Some skin tags, for whatever reason, are just darker than others and is not a reason to be concerned. There are other times when a skin tag, that wasn’t dark before, now turns color and becomes dark. This normally happens because the blood supply to the skin tag has been interrupted for some reason. When the blood supply gets cut off, the skin tag begins shrinking and starts to die.
This is evident when someone ties their skin tag with dental floss or applies a chemical designed to kill off skin tags. In these situations, your skin tag turning color is what you want to see, because it means your removal treatment is working.
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