Skin tags, also known as acrochordons, are the most common benign (non-cancerous) small tumors of the skin.
These occur most often after middle age and tend to be found in skin fold areas of the body including armpits, groin, thighs, eyelids, neck, or under breasts.
As many as 46% of the population over 40 have experienced skin tags.
These skin tag polyps often start as a small raised area and can grow larger, appearing as a soft fleshy bump on the end of a stalk-like outgrowth.
While these growths cannot harm you and rarely cause discomfort, many look into simple removal procedures of skin tags for cosmetic reasons.
But what are the possible reasons why skin tags grow, and what groups of people are most at risk?
In this article, we will go over some of the potential causes and risk factors for skin tag development.
Women who are pregnant seem to be at a higher risk for skin tag development.
While it is unclear exactly what makes skin tags more common during pregnancy, hormone fluctuations or weight gain may play a role.
The common HPV or Human Papilloma Virus may play a part in whether skin tags develop or not.
One study analyzed 37 skin tags from different participants and identified HPV DNA inside 48.6% of the tags.
Other reports state that HPV DNA can be found in up to 88% of skin tags.
The exact mechanism at play has not yet been identified, but studies suggest that there may be a connection between HPV and skin tags.
Genetics appear to pass down a predisposition to the development of skin tag
So, if members of your family often deal with skin tags, it may be more likely that you eventually will develop one or more as well.
Studies are still needed to identify how exactly genetics plays a role in skin tag development.
Insulin resistance is a common problem that causes an improper response to insulin and increased glucose in the blood. With time insulin resistance may develop into diabetes.
Insulin resistance and diabetes may have an association with skin tags, and skin tags may be an early warning sign of impaired insulin function.
One study identified 98 patients that had 5 or more skin tags and matched them with 103 control patients that had never had a skin tag to look at certain biomarkers between the two groups including levels of insulin resistance.
In this study, there was an association between higher levels of insulin resistance and having skin tags.
Obesity may have a correlation to increased risk of having skin tags, as some studies show obese patients to have a higher incidence of skin tags as compared to non-obese patients.
One study looked into 245 non-diabetic patients and 276 diabetic patients to see if there was a connection between skin tags and body weight.
The researchers found a connection between obesity in patients and an increased amount of skin tags, in addition to an increased number of mixed-color skin tags.
Skin tags seem to pop up in areas of the body that have folds and a lot of skin-to-skin or clothing friction, like the underarms, neck, groin, thighs, eyelids, or underneath the breasts.
This leads scientists to think that increased friction of a skin area may potentially lead to the development of skin tags.
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