Skin tags are small, noncancerous growths that form when the skin rubs against itself. They typically don’t require treatment. But if their appearance bothers you, you can undergo a skin tag removal procedure. It’s important to receive care from a health professional and not try to treat them yourself.
Skin tags (acrochordons) are small, noncancerous growths that tend to be the same color as your skin. They often look like a cluster of skin tissue extending out from a tiny stem. They’re sometimes darker and may resemble a raised mole. Most skin tags are between 1-5 mm, but some can grow as large as a few centimeters.
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Yes, acrochordons are common. Researchers estimate that half of all adults will have at least one skin tag in their lifetime.
Skin tags do not affect your health. But they can be unsightly. If they are in areas like your face and neck, they can make you self-conscious. A skin tag removal procedure from a healthcare provider can help.
On some occasions, a growth that looks like a skin tag may be something else, like a wart, skin disease or skin cancer. You should see a dermatologist or other experienced healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis.
Acrochordons occur when the body produces extra cells in the skin’s top layers. They tend to form in skin folds and areas where natural movement causes the skin to rub against itself. Skin tags often grow in these areas:
The likelihood of developing skin tags increases with age. You may also be at risk if you:
Skin tags typically do not cause symptoms. In some cases, friction from a skin tag rubbing against your skin, clothes or jewelry can cause discomfort or bleeding.
Healthcare providers diagnose skin tags after a brief evaluation. They will ask about your health history, paying careful attention to conditions that raise your risk for skin tags. A quick exam helps rule out growths that may look like skin tags.
These conditions include:
No tests are necessary to confirm a skin tag diagnosis. If your healthcare provider suspects something else, they may take a sample (biopsy) and send it to the lab for testing.
If you aren’t bothered by the way the skin tag looks and it doesn’t hurt, then your skin tag may not need treatment. In fact, most skin tags don’t need treatment. Some may fall off on their own.
You may wish to talk to your healthcare provider about skin tag removal if:
There are many over-the-counter skin tag removal products. But at-home treatments are not safe. They come with a higher risk of complications, which include:
A dermatologist is the most qualified to remove skin tags. They have the skills and training to treat delicate problems, like skin tags on your eyelids. They also excel in minimizing scarring, which is important for skin tags on your neck. And dermatologists can accurately diagnose growths that are not skin tags.
There are many methods for skin tag removal. Treatment usually takes place during an in-office procedure and may include using:
Skin tag removal procedures can cause mild discomfort. You receive medication to help you stay as comfortable as possible.
The treatment area will likely scab over in the days following the procedure. After the scab falls off, you may notice slight imperfections in the skin. But they will hardly be noticeable to others.
Steps you can take include:
If a healthcare provider removes the entire skin tag, it’s not likely to grow back. But it’s possible to develop new ones.
Skin tags are noncancerous and do not raise your risk of other health issues.
Life with skin tags is not any different. Most of them do not need treatment, and they do not affect your health. If they become bothersome, talk to your healthcare provider.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Skin tags are common, and there’s a good chance you’ll experience one in your lifetime. Although they can be unsightly, skin tags are noncancerous and shouldn’t be cause for concern. If their appearance bothers you or they rub against skin, jewelry or clothing, you can have them removed. Seeking skin tag removal from an experienced healthcare provider lowers the risk of complications and minimizes scarring.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/01/2021.
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