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What Causes Skin Tags?

Are you worried about the tiny skin growths on your neckline and armpits? They are called skin tags, which are benign, and can be removed. Here is a brief overview about the causes for this condition.
Sonia Nair
Skin tags are small growths which appear on the skin, and are composed of nerve cells, fat cells, fibers and ducts, and an outer epidermal covering. Most of them grow on stalk-like extensions on the skin. Such stalk-like structures are called peduncles. Skin tags are also known as cutaneous papilloma, fibroma molluscum, acrochordon, soft fibroma, papilloma colli, cutaneous tag, and fibroepithelial polyp. These growths are commonly seen in adults rather than in infants and kids. They vary in size, and most of them are irregular in shape. They are either smooth or wrinkled. On its emergence, a skin tag may appear as a small bump on the skin. Usually small, some skin tags may grow to the size of a big grape.
They can appear anywhere on the skin, but skin tags are usually seen in the neckline, armpits, groin, beneath the breasts, and eyelids. Armpits are the most common location, where skin tags are found. In some cases, clusters of skin tags are seen in the armpits. So, skin tags are usually found in certain locations, where the skin is subjected to frequent friction. This is said to be a cause for these skin growths.
Skin tags are so common, that according to statistics, almost 50% of the adults have at least one in a lifetime. Till date, no specific cause has been identified, but several theories are associated with the occurrence of these skin growths.
  • As mentioned earlier, most of the researchers believe that skin tags are caused by skin friction. Friction can be caused by clothes, jewelry, or other body parts. While neckline friction is mainly due to clothes and jewelry; in case of armpits, it is the friction between the skin itself, or with clothes. The same applies to groin and the underside of the breasts.
  • Causes of skin tags include use of illegal steroids. Improper use of steroids not prescribed by a health care provider, can negatively affect the body. This may cause bonding of collagen fibers, thereby leading to this skin condition.
  • It is also observed that some hormonal changes can trigger emergence of skin tags. This explains the occurrence of these skin growths during pregnancy.
  • Skin tag causes include sagging skin as well. That is why obese people are more prone to this condition than others. Sagging skin often causes friction, which aggravates the possibility of such skin growths.
  • They are common among diabetic people, which links this condition to the problems associated with insulin production and action.
  • Finally, skin tags are also linked to the human Papillomavirus, which is the main cause for warts.
In short, skin tags are common, and are not considered a health threat; but, they can cause embarrassment. However, there are various methods to remove skin tags. Sometimes, such growths may even fall off on their own. As they are not harmful to one's health, there is no need to remove skin tags. They are often removed for cosmetic reasons.