Skin tags 

  • Overview

Introduction 

Skin tags are small growths that look similar to warts 

Skin tag or wart?

Here's how to tell the difference:

  • Skin tags are smooth and soft, whereas warts tend to be rougher with an irregular surface.
  • Skin tags are knobbly and hang off the skin, whereas warts are usually flat.
  • Skin tags are not contagious, but warts spread very easily, so a sudden outbreak or cluster of growths is more likely to be warts.

Read more about warts.

Skin conditions: a visual guide

Skin conditions: a visual guide

Identify common skin conditions and problems, including psoriasis, eczema, acne, ringworm, athlete's foot and rashes

Skin tags are small flesh-coloured or brown growths that hang off the skin and look a bit like warts. They are very common and harmless.

Skin tags are usually a few millimetres in size, although can be as big as 5cm.

They are usually found on the neck, in the armpits, around the groin, or under the breasts. They can also grow on the eyelids or under the folds of the buttocks.

The medical name for skin tags is acrochordons.

Why skin tags occur

Anyone can develop skin tags, but they are particularly common in older people. Some people develop them for no apparent reason.

It is thought skin tags grow where skin rubs against skin or clothing. This would explain why they tend to affect overweight people who have excess folds of skin and skin chafing.

When skin tags can be a problem

Skin tags are harmless and do not usually cause pain or discomfort. 

However, you may want to consider getting them removed if they are unsightly and affect your self-esteem, or if they snag on clothing or jewellery and bleed. You will usually need to pay for this procedure privately.

This is because the removal of skin tags is regarded as cosmetic surgery, which is rarely available through the NHS. Generally, the NHS will only carry out cosmetic surgery procedures if the problem is affecting your physical or mental health.

Sometimes, skin tags fall off on their own if the tissue has twisted and died from a lack of blood supply. 

Removing skin tags

If you have a skin tag that is upsetting you, consider making an appointment with a privately practising GP to have it removed.

Skin tags can easily be burnt or frozen off in a similar way to how warts are removed.

If your skin tag is small with a narrow base, the GP may suggest you try removing it yourself by:

  • tying off the base of the skin tag with dental floss or cotton to cut off its blood supply and make it drop off
  • cutting it off with fine sterile scissors

Do not attempt to remove large skin tags yourself because they will bleed heavily.




Page last reviewed: 12/12/2012

Next review due: 12/12/2014

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Comments

The 7 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

shamalamb said on 28 June 2014

Just like to say that one of the links in my previous post mentions mole removal. I would not touch a mole! I had a GP confirm mine were skin tags before I did anything to them myself. Moles are totally different and I would not mess with them.

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KirstyLFCsmith said on 22 November 2013

About 3 hours ago I tied the bottom of my skin tag as tight as I could with thread, went shopping and ran some errands, came back, froze my nipple and pulled the thread til my skin tag came off, it stung a tiny bit, bled for a millisecond and now it is absolutely fine :)

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bubba white said on 09 August 2013

here's a link for info related to skin tags and diabetes
http://www.healthyimmunity.com/forum/viewthread.aspx?id=1334

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pete dune said on 04 August 2013

Definatly don't try to remove a skin tag your self or let anyone else but a gp or a qualfied practitioner do it for you. under medical conditions. one doctor at our med centre holds a monthly clinic to perform none emergency proceedures such as a small group with problematic skin tags and will destroy them by "strangulating" the blood supply with dental floss, possibly freezing, depending on the situation and condition of the tag.
Trying to remove one your self could cause heavy bleeding and or other complications including scaring, injury, infection or even re-accuring skin tags else where on your body.
i think skin tags begin with tiny blood spots caused by injury, bruising or chaffing ill fitting clothes and maybe even over exposure.to sun rays or sun lamps.

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Diane63 said on 14 January 2013

You don't even mention in your article that skin tags are a warning of diabetes onset. Every single other article I've read about skin tags says they can be a sign of diabetes.

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joeybabe said on 29 December 2011

I had pain throughout my groin ,hips and lower back every day for 10yrs. Spent maybe two or three thousand pounds on treatment and had an MRI scan on my lower back. I went on holiday and snagged a skin tag that was on my lower back and upon my return i went to see the nurse at my doctors. She removed it in about two seconds with some scissors. Within 12 hours i had no back pain at all and its never returned. I can't find any other case on the internet like mine, but spread the word if you know anyone with a bad back, that nurse changed my life.

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ABC567 said on 01 August 2011

I have been told I have a skin tag on my anus caused from a fissure after constipation - how can i get this removed?

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Keep skin healthy

Keep skin healthy in all weathers. Plus common skin conditions and treatments, including acne