Skin tags, also known by the medical name Acrochordons, are small stalk-like protrusions that develop in areas of the skin prone to creasing. These growths are benign, painless, and generally only a cosmetic nuisance in most people, and are common enough that researchers claim nearly 59% of all adults develop them in the later stages of life. Interestingly, there does seem to be a correlation between skin tags and type II diabetes. In fact, research dating as far back as the late 1980s shows that adult diabetics are 26% more likely to develop skin tags the non-diabetics.
There are several different theories as to why this is the case, none of which have been proven conclusively. But it is important to note that the increase in skin tags related to diabetes only affects those with type II diabetes. Type I and gestational diabetes patients are not adversely affected.
Researchers believe that one of the most likely causes of skin tags in general is carrying excess weight. As observed in people suffering from obesity, excess weight tends to cause creasing of the skin. The creasing causes skin irritation which may trigger the growth of skin tags. This may relate to diabetics because the vast majority of such patients are also overweight to some extent.
Since type II diabetes is often treated through exercise and a modified diet, the resulting weight loss may also cause skin tags to disappear. In patients where they continue despite the modifications, there might be other factors in play that doctors are not yet aware of.
In one prominent study commissioned several years ago, research indicated a strong correlation between skin tags and insulin resistance. This correlation showed that patients who already had skin tag issues were more likely to also be suffering from mild insulin resistance, which is a common symptom of the onset of type II diabetes. It still is not understood if the insulin resistance is in some way directly related to the development of skin tags, but the fact that there is a correlation is intriguing.
In some cases where type II diabetes is diagnosed in the early stages, a treatment designed to increase the levels of some minerals in the body seems to help in preventing the further development of the disease. In many of these patients, after three or more months on the mineral therapy, skin tags also tended to disappear. It is possible that the insulin resistance and skin tags are both being caused by some sort of natural mineral imbalance. None of this research is conclusive by any means, but study is ongoing.
One of the most intriguing areas of study in type II diabetics related to how a diabetic patient processes carbohydrates. It has been noted that many diabetics handle carbohydrates inefficiently, which may lead to the insulin resistance problems. Treatment for the carbohydrate issues often results in the disappearance of skin tags as well. Perhaps as the study reveals more conclusive results, it may prove to be helpful to both type II diabetes and skin tags.
Skin tags are normally harmless and painless unless they are routinely irritated by clothing or jewellery; accidentally cutting them while shaving can also lead to further irritation or infection. Otherwise, skin tags can normally be left alone.
If you do find them annoying, your best bet is to get an over-the-counter topical medication that will treat them both safely and effectively. You may also have your doctor remove your skin tags through cryotherapy, cauterization, tying them off, or surgical excision.