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Skin tags (acrochordons)

6-minute read

Key facts

  • Skin tags (also known as 'acrochordons') are small growths that hang on the skin.
  • They are common, especially as a person ages, and don't cause any harm.
  • Skin tags tend to develop when the skin rubs together, such as armpits, anus, thighs, eyelids and neck, and are more common in people living with overweight and obesity who have folds of skin.
  • There is no medical need to remove a skin tag.
  • If a skin tag is bothering you or you don't like its appearance, talk to your doctor about getting it removed.

What are skin tags?

Skin tags are growths that hang from your skin — your doctor might call them 'acrochordons'. They range from 1mm to 1cm and are made of collagen (a type of protein) and blood vessels surrounded by skin. They usually grow in the folds of the skin, where skin rubs together, such as, armpits, groin, anus, thighs, eyelids, neck or under the breasts.

Skin tags are common, especially as the person ages. They occur in approximately 1 in every 2 adults. They don't cause any harm, but if a skin tag is bothering you, you can talk to your doctor about having it removed.

What are the symptoms of skin tags?

Most skin tags are painless and don't cause any symptoms. But if they rub on clothing or jewellery, they may get sore and bleed.

Image of multiple skin tags.
Skin tags are small harmless growths on the skin and are usually less than 1cm in size.

Skin tags look different from warts and other benign skin lesions because of the small stalk that attaches them to the skin. Warts tend to be flat, while skin tags hang off the skin.

What causes skin tags?

The exact cause of skin tags is unknown, and there are likely to be both lifestyle and genetic causes. Some people develop them for no known reason.

You are more likely to get skin tags in areas where the skin tends to rub against itself. Some health conditions are through to contribute to the risk of developing skin tags, such as:

Anyone of any gender can develop skin tags, and they are more common in older people. If you're pregnant and develop skin tags, they usually disappear after your baby is born.

When should I see my doctor?

If you ever notice a new spot or growth on your skin, you should always see your doctor to check what it is. It is important that your doctor examines you in person, and checks for signs of skin cancer and other skin conditions.

You should also see your doctor if you have a skin tag that is bothering you, if you would like to have it removed. Your doctor can give you information about skin tag removal options.

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How are skin tags diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose skin tags by asking you some questions and examining your skin. In most cases, you won't need medical tests or scans.

How are skin tags treated or removed?

There is no medical need to remove a skin tag. Skin tags can sometimes drop off by themselves over time.

If you decide to have a skin tag removed — for example, because it is bothering you or you don't like its appearance — talk to your doctor.

Your doctor can remove the skin tags by:

  • freezing them with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy)
  • cutting them off with surgical scissors or a scalpel (excision)
  • burning them with electrical energy (hyfrecation)

Depending on where the skin tag is on your body, your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist (skin doctor) to have it removed.

It's not a good idea to try to remove skin tags by yourself since they can bleed heavily or get infected.

Can skin tags be prevented?

Skin tags can't be fully prevented. You can, however, reduce your chances of getting skin tags by maintaining a healthy body weight with a balanced diet and exercise.

Resources and support

The Australasian College of Dermatologists provides information about the symptoms, causes and removal of skin tags.

The Cancer Council factsheet on skin cancer outlines signs and symptoms, causes and treatment. It is important to check your skin regularly and check with your doctor if you notice any changes.

Call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 at any time to speak to a registered nurse (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria) for more information and advice.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2023

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