A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Skin tags: Annoying but harmless

Photo of provider checking a women's back for skin tags

Skin tags may be irritating but they are harmless.

You can find them on your neck or under your armpit, ­skin tags are a lesion that appears to hang off the skin. They can develop anywhere on your body, but typically are found in the skin folds. It may be irritating to have one, but Heather Landwehr, physician assistant in dermatology at Marshfield Clinic Health System, says skin tags are common and harmless.

Risk factors for skin tags

Skin tags develop in both men and women as they grow older. They are usually the same color as your skin, and tend to be more numerous in obese persons and people with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

“It is not known what causes skin tags,” Landwehr said. “However, a few factors like chaffing or irritation from skin rubbing together, and insulin resistance might play a role. Women during pregnancy also may develop skin tags because of hormonal and growth changes.”

Skin tag removal

Skin tags can be removed for cosmetic reasons using a few methods. Liquid nitrogen, also called cryotherapy, freezes the lesion off. Surgical excision often with scissors, cautery or ligation (a string tied around) also can remove skin tags.

Landwehr said over-the-counter tag away is sometimes used, but she is unsure on how effective this product is.

“We recommend you see your provider to get rid of any bothersome skin tags,” she said.

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