Skin tags are small, painless growths on the skin that vary in colour and size. They are completely harmless, but some people choose to have them removed for cosmetic purposes, or if they get caught on clothing.

What are skin tags?

Skin tags are small areas of overgrown skin tissue, which stick out from the surface of the skin. They tend to be quite small initially.

Most stay at around 2-3mm, but might grow to protrude quite noticeably, or develop into papilloma, a larger version of a skin tag which can reach 5mm or more. Over time, more skin tags are likely to develop so that the patient has a patch or crop of skin tags.

What causes skin tags?

Unlike warts, there is no viral cause. Skin tags are most commonly caused by friction, where skin rubs against skin or clothing. That’s why they commonly appear in the underarms and groin area or on eyelids. They can also appear in genital areas.


How can you identify skin tags?

Skin tags are protruding bits of skin, sticking out like little pillars. They tend to be quite soft and flexible and can be flicked from side to side.

They do not have the speckled ‘cauliflower’ appearance which characterises warts and are not uncomfortable or painful in themselves.

Are skin tags ever a problem?

The main problem with skin tags is often cosmetic concerns, as they can look unpleasant, especially when they are on the face or neck or a large crop appears.

The other issue is that skin tags can catch on clothing or in zippers or jewellery, which can be very painful.

Are there any skin tag risk factors?

Skin tags might run in the family, so you could have a genetic predisposition to them if your parents or grandparents had a lot.

Excess weight is also a factor and wearing tight clothing that rubs, such as badly fitting bras, is likely to increase the risk of localised skin tags appearing.

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