Skin tags are skin growths that are ovoid, brown, or skin-colored, and attached to a fleshy stalk. These are most commonly found in skin folds such as the underarms, throat, eyelids, and crotch. They are usually 2-5 mm long, but can grow to reach several centimeters. Skin tags are not painful, however, they can cause some discomfort when they rub on skin or if they become trapped in clothing or jewelry.

Both men and women equally can get skin tags and usually appear as early as the second decade of life. People typically do not develop new skin tags after the age of seventy.

Common Causes Of A Skin Tag

Although the exact cause of skin tags is unknown, there are various theories on why they develop.

  • Obesity

    Frequent skin rubbing against the skin in body folds may contribute to their creation. This is why overweight or obese people are more likely to have skin tags.

  • Friction from clothing or jewelry

    Aside from friction from skin-to-skin rubbing, skin tags may also develop if there is frequent friction from clothing and jewelry to the skin.

  • Diabetes

    Insulin resistance may play a role in the development and growth of these benign tumors and can be a sign of early diabetes.

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)

    Some studies show that HPV was found in a high percentage of the growths, indicating that the virus might have a role.

  • Genetics

    Studies have also shown that some people have a genetic predisposition to the development of skin tags and thus can run in families.

  • Aging

    The reason behind this is probably that friction builds over time as well as loss of skin elasticity in older people. Sagging skin has the tendency to rub more than firm skin.

  • Hormones

    Changes in hormone levels such as in pregnancy, polycystic ovary syndrome, or acromegaly can cause the development of skin tags.

Does your skin have abnormal growths?

You may have skin tags. Consult our MOH-accredited dermatologist for a detailed evaluation and accurate diagnosis.

Risks & Complications

Though skin tag removal procedures are simple, quick, and minimally invasive, they are not completely without risks:

  • Bleeding and infection

    A skin tag can be removed rapidly in an outpatient clinic with simple surgical scissors and under sterile conditions, but minor bleeding or a local infection could occur.

  • Skin discoloration

    With cryosurgery or electrocautery procedures, there is a risk of skin discoloration after the procedure. Either darkening or lightening can happen.

  • Scarring

    With improper removal of a skin tag, scarring may occur. Also, sometimes normal skin tissue can be erroneously removed, which can lead to an unusual skin appearance.

  • Nerve damage

    Rarely, a neuroma may develop if a nerve in or near the skin tag gets cut causing chronic pain that can last for weeks or even months.

Dr Noor Hanif Said

Medical Director & Consultant Dermatologist

Over 20 years of experience
in medical, Surgical & aesthetic Dermatology

  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS, Singapore)
  • Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP, United Kingdom)
  • Fellow Of The Academy of Medicine, Singapore (FAMS, Dermatology)

Prior to starting his private practice at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, Dr Hanif was a dermatologist at the National Skin Centre and a Visiting Consultant with the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Dermatology Service.

Apart from his expertise in the management of general dermatological problems such as eczema, psoriasis, hair loss and acne, he has special interests in pigmentary disorders and aesthetic dermatology.

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your journey to optimal skin health

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    your journey to optimal skin health

    Make An Enquiry

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is skin tag removal painful?

    Skin tag removal procedures can cause mild discomfort or pain. Depending on the method used, numbing agents called anesthesia are often used to numb the area of the skin tag so the procedure would be pain-free. However, you can experience discomfort for hours to a few days after the procedure.

    Can skin tags return after treatment?

    If your dermatologist removes the entire skin tag, it’s not likely to grow back. However, you can develop new ones in the same area.

    What happens to my skin after the skin tag is removed?

    The treated area will likely form a scab after a few days following the procedure. After the scab falls off, slight imperfections in the skin can be revealed but these are hardly noticeable.

    Can skin tags be a sign of skin cancer?

    No, skin tags are not cancerous or precancerous. Some skin cancers, however, may resemble skin tags. Thus, it’s always advisable to have any new skin growth assessed by a board-certified dermatologist to make sure it’s indeed a skin tag and not skin cancer.