If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from skin tags, you know how embarrassing and annoying they can be. Fortunately, these benign growths that can occur anywhere on the body are generally considered harmless unless they are continually irritated or inadvertently cut or broken open. They can occur in people of any age, including infants and toddlers, but those over the age of 50 are more likely to develop them than others.
So what causes skin tags? That’s not something scientists haven’t yet figured out conclusively but skin friction, hormones, genetics, and two strains of the Human Papillomavirus seem to be involved in a large number of studied cases. To give you a better understanding of skin tags and why they might occur, we will discuss the five most common issues scientifically linked to the these growths. This list is by no means exhaustive.
Doctors believe that one of the biggest culprits in developing skin tags is abnormal and excessive friction on the skin. As clothing, jewelry, or even other parts of the body rub on a specific area of skin, it is surmised that the skin protects itself by increasing the production of skin cells. The increased skin cell production moves upward rather than outward, similar to a wart, thereby creating the skin tag.
If doctors are correct about this, it would explain why obese individuals tend to develop skin tags in the armpits, the groin, and under the breasts. These are the areas most likely to develop large flaps of overhanging skin that can cause unnatural surface friction. Furthermore, overweight individuals who frequently undergo a weight gain/weight loss cycle mat be more susceptible to skin friction issues, and thus, skin tags.
When comparing men and women for the frequency of skin tags, both have an equal chance of developing them. The one exception is pregnant women, who have a much higher incidence than men and their non-pregnant counterparts. A combination of the extra weight and abnormal hormone levels are both thought to contribute to skin tags in pregnant women.
These women often develop the growths under the breasts, in the armpits, on the face and neck, and on the thighs. Fortunately, most women who develop skin tags as a result of pregnancy need no treatment to get rid of them. They usually fade away on their own after the baby is born. This further supports the idea that hormones and weight gain are major factors for skin tags in pregnant women.
Type II diabetics are twice as likely to develop skin tags as those who do not have the disease, according to several different studies. Although no one knows exactly why this is so, it is thought that the combination of insulin resistance, excess weight, and irregular blood sugar levels may all contribute in some way.
It’s also important to note that diabetics tend to develop many other conditions as a result of their disease, including nerve damage in the skin. This type of damage can mask skin friction issues that the diabetic would normally be aware of and try to correct. Ongoing research continues to look into how the disease affects all parts of the human body, including the skin.
Although research in this area is far from conclusive, more and more researchers are beginning to believe that genetics does play a role in developing skin tags for some patients. For example, researchers have uncovered instances where one group of obese people will develop skin tags while another will not, even though both groups experience similar living conditions and personal habits. Looking further at the group that does develop the skin tags, it is not uncommon to find that others in their families also had issues with them.
Lending some credence to the issue of hereditary factors are other skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea; all of which have been proven to be passed from one generation to the next. If genetics does turn out to be a factor, it is not necessarily a given that the children of skin tag sufferers will also develop the growths when they get older. In fact, many common genetic issues tend to skip a generation or two.
HPV is a group of viruses within the papillomavirus family with more than 200 strains that can actively infect human skin. Of those 200 strains, nearly 100 of them cause all the different types of warts in human beings. Interestingly, filiform warts are the most unique-looking of all warts because they tend to resemble small twigs or stalks growing out of the skin, rather than round bumps. Though somewhat more round and plump, skin tags grow up and out just like filiform warts, and sometimes appear as small stalks about the size of a grain of rice.
Research indicates the presence of HPV 6 and 11 in some cases of skin tag growth. It’s unclear at this time whether the viruses are the cause of these cases of skin tags, or whether the skin tag itself was susceptible to a later HPV infection due to the nature of its growth. Regardless, as research continues in this area hopefully more conclusive evidence will be gathered.
There are other miscellaneous possible causes for skin tags that are not discussed very often, primarily because research into this issue is very limited. But things like allergic reactions, wearing improperly fitting clothing, wearing heavy jewelry, increased stress, and poor diet may all have a role to play in skin tag development in some people. Regardless of the direct or indirect cause however, patients can find some relief in knowing that skin tags are merely a cosmetic issue for the most part.
Having them removed is a matter of personal choice and there is no right or wrong decision. If you suffer from skin tags you may use one of the all-natural skin tag removal products sold over the counter. These products are both safe and effective regardless of where on the body your skin tags appear.
Be careful of chemical treatments as these can cause scarring or skin irritation. This is especially true around the eyes or in the groin area. If you experience any adverse reactions to chemical treatments you should probably stop using them in favor of natural substitutes.
Finally, if home remedies don’t help, or you would simply prefer professional help, feel free see your physician. He or she will have no trouble diagnosing and removing your skin tags.