Are Skin Tags Harmful?

The precise reason why skin tags develop isn’t fully understood. What is known is that about  50% of adult Americans have them, they often run in families, and they may be related to the human papillomavirus (HPV) in some way. 

They aren’t, however, cancerous, nor do they typically cause pain. They can affect your body image, though, and if you choose, they can be removed easily during a short doctor’s appointment. The team at Wandisan-Rosete Medical Group are skin tag specialists, so schedule a visit if you’re tired of these harmless hangers-on for fast treatment ahead of beach season.

Recognizing skin tags

Medically called acrochordons, skin tags typically have a distinctive appearance as smooth, skin-colored growths attached to your body by a narrow stalk. Some tags may be darker than your normal skin tone, and you can have a mix of light and dark tags. Skin tags are soft, and they have no sensation. Squeezing one with your fingers demonstrates their softness, and unless you tug the tag away from your body, you’ll feel nothing. 

Your doctor at Wandisan-Rosete can easily recognize a skin tag simply from observation and examination. Some tags can, though, have unusual shapes, and if there’s any doubt about a growth’s composition, it may be removed and sent to a lab for analysis. 

Not cancerous

Skin tags are not a form of cancer, nor can they develop into cancerous growths. Some harmful skin growths can mimic the appearance of skin tags, though. Be suspicious of growths that are colors other than normal skin tones or that don’t have the narrow stalk connecting them to your body. 

If the bulb of the growth is hard, or if it has sensations when touched, it’s probably not a skin tag and should be medically examined. 


Skin tags generally have no medical need for treatment, but if you’re unhappy with their appearance, you may choose to have them removed. While you can purchase over-the-counter skin tag removal kits, it’s safer to trust their removal to a medical professional. There’s a risk of damage to skin surrounding the tag, as well as increased risk of infection, particularly if you attempt to remove larger tags yourself. 

While skin tags usually don’t cause pain, it’s possible for a tag to become twisted, cutting off the blood supply. Tags can also become irritated by contact with clothing or other friction-producing surfaces. Though these conditions usually aren’t serious, they can cause enough pain to disturb your sleep or affect your concentration during the day. 

Chances of developing skin tags

The appearance of skin tags tends to climb with age, particularly if other family members have tags too. The most common locations for skin tags are places where skin rubs together, such as under the arms or places with folds. Being overweight increases your risk, and those with high insulin resistance (type 2 diabetics) tend to develop multiple skin tags. 

Contact Wandisan-Rosete Medical Group in Tracy, California if you’re ready to part with these harmless growths. It’s also a good time to request skin cancer screening for the rest of your body. Call the office directly at 209-226-4308, or request an appointment online using the link on this page

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