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Skin Tags: Causes and Safe Removal Methods

Skin tags, though harmless, can be a source of discomfort or self-consciousness for many people. These small, soft skin growths often appear in areas where skin rubs against skin or clothing. While they are not medically concerning, many seek to remove them for cosmetic reasons or because they cause irritation. This blog post explores what skin tags are, why they form, and the safe methods to remove them.

Doctor dermatologist examines skin of patient. Dermatoscopy, prevention of melanoma, skin cancer.

What Are Skin Tags?

Skin tags, medically known as acrochordons, are benign, non-cancerous growths that typically appear in areas of the body where skin folds or creases. Common locations include the neck, armpits, under the breasts, groin, and eyelids. They vary in size and color and can range from a few millimeters to about 2 inches wide.

Causes of Skin Tags

The exact cause of skin tags is not known, but several factors may contribute to their development:

  • Friction: Skin rubbing against skin is a common factor, which explains their prevalence in skin fold areas.
  • Genetics: There may be a hereditary component, as skin tags tend to run in families.
  • Age: They are more common as people age, particularly in those over 50.
  • Hormonal Changes: Pregnant women may be more likely to develop skin tags due to hormonal changes and weight gain.
  • Insulin Resistance: Some studies suggest a link between insulin resistance and the development of skin tags.

Removing Skin Tags

Over-the-Counter Solutions

  • Tag Removal Creams and Patches: These products claim to dry out and remove skin tags over time. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully and be aware that results may vary.

Medical Procedures

  • Cryotherapy: This involves freezing the skin tag with liquid nitrogen. It’s a quick procedure usually requiring no anesthesia.
  • Cauterization: The skin tag is burned off using electrolysis.
  • Ligation: The blood supply to the skin tag is cut off by tying it off with a surgical thread.
  • Surgical Removal: A doctor can cut off the skin tag using a scalpel or surgical scissors.

Do’s and Don’ts of Skin Tag Removal

  • Do consult a dermatologist before attempting to remove a skin tag, especially if it’s large or in a sensitive area like the eyelids.
  • Don’t cut off a skin tag yourself. This can lead to bleeding, infection, or scarring.
  • Do monitor the skin tag for any changes in size, color, or shape, which should be evaluated by a professional.
  • Don’t ignore signs of infection such as redness, swelling, or pain around the skin tag.


Skin tags are a common skin issue that, while harmless, can be bothersome. Understanding what they are and why they form is the first step in dealing with them. For safe and effective removal, it’s best to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare provider who can recommend the most appropriate method. Remember, while skin tags are generally benign, any changes in your skin growths should be checked by a professional to rule out other skin conditions.

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