Skin tags, medically known as acrochordons, are small, benign growths that appear on the skin’s surface. They are typically painless and often go unnoticed until they become a cosmetic concern. Many people may wonder why they are suddenly developing skin tags. In this article, we will explore the causes of skin tags, why they might appear suddenly, and how to manage and remove them if desired.
What Are Skin Tags?
Skin tags are soft, flesh-colored or slightly pigmented growths that protrude from the skin’s surface. They are usually connected to the skin by a thin stalk and can vary in size from a few millimeters to a few centimeters. Skin tags are typically painless and are considered harmless. They are most commonly found in areas where the skin rubs against itself, such as the neck, underarms, groin, and eyelids, but they can appear anywhere on the body.
Causes of Skin Tags:
The exact cause of skin tags is not fully understood, but several factors are believed to contribute to their development. These factors include:
Friction: Skin tags often appear in areas where the skin rubs against itself or clothing. This constant friction may lead to the development of skin tags over time.
Genetics: There is evidence to suggest that genetics play a role in the development of skin tags. If your parents or other family members have skin tags, you may be more likely to develop them.
Hormones: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy, may influence the development of skin tags. Some studies have shown a higher incidence of skin tags in pregnant women.
Obesity: Skin tags are more common in individuals who are overweight or obese. The excess skin and folds created by excess body fat can contribute to the development of skin tags.
Insulin Resistance: Some research suggests a connection between insulin resistance and the development of skin tags. Individuals with conditions like type 2 diabetes or prediabetes may be more prone to skin tags.
Age: Skin tags become more common with age. They are relatively rare in children and tend to increase in frequency as individuals get older.
Why Skin Tags Might Appear Suddenly:
While skin tags can develop over time due to the factors mentioned above, there are several reasons why you might suddenly notice an increase in their appearance:
Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, such as those that occur during pregnancy or menopause, can trigger the development of skin tags. This sudden change in hormone levels may lead to the appearance of new skin tags.
Weight Gain: Significant weight gain, whether due to pregnancy, lifestyle changes, or other factors, can result in skin folds and increased friction, making it more likely for skin tags to develop.
Underlying Health Conditions: Some underlying health conditions, such as insulin resistance or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), may contribute to the sudden appearance of skin tags.
Medications: Certain medications or medical treatments can affect the skin, leading to the development of skin tags as a side effect.
Skin Trauma: In some cases, skin trauma or irritation in a particular area can trigger the development of a skin tag.
Managing and Removing Skin Tags:
Skin tags are generally harmless and don’t require treatment. However, if you find them bothersome, or if they become irritated or bleed, you can consider various methods for managing or removing them:
Medical Procedures: Dermatologists or healthcare providers can remove skin tags through procedures such as cauterization, cryotherapy (freezing), or excision. These procedures are safe and effective.
Over-the-Counter Products: Some over-the-counter products, such as skin tag removal creams or patches, can be used to dissolve or remove skin tags at home. However, these should be used with caution and according to the product’s instructions.
Tying Off with Dental Floss: You can tie off a skin tag at its base with clean dental floss, which cuts off its blood supply. This eventually causes the skin tag to fall off. This method should be done carefully to avoid infection.
Consultation with a Healthcare Provider: If you’re unsure about the best approach for managing or removing your skin tags, consult with a healthcare provider or dermatologist. They can provide guidance and perform safe and effective removal procedures.
Preventing Skin Tags:
While you may not be able to completely prevent the development of skin tags, you can take steps to reduce your risk:
Maintain a Healthy Weight: If you’re overweight, losing weight may help reduce the friction and skin folds that contribute to skin tag formation.
Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing: Avoid wearing tight or restrictive clothing in areas prone to skin tag development, as this can reduce friction.
Practice Good Skincare: Keeping the skin clean and dry can help prevent skin irritation and the development of skin tags.
Monitor for Changes: Be aware of any changes in your skin and consult with a healthcare provider if you notice new or unusual growths.
Skin tags are common, benign skin growths that can appear suddenly for various reasons, including hormonal changes, weight gain, and underlying health conditions. While they are typically harmless, you can choose to manage or remove them if they cause discomfort or are a cosmetic concern. If you have questions or concerns about your skin tags, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare provider or dermatologist, who can offer guidance and safe removal options.