Skin tags are small pieces of soft, hanging skin that may have a peduncle, or stalk. They appear most commonly where skin rubs on skin or clothing. Over-the-counter medications and minor surgery can remove them if a person wishes.

Other names are acrochordon, cutaneous papilloma, cutaneous tag, fibroepithelial polyp, fibroma molluscum, fibroma pendulum, soft fibroma, and Templeton skin tags.

Skin tags are very common and generally occur after midlife. They affect men and women equally.

Here are some photos of skin tags on various parts of the body.

Skin tags are benign, non-cancerous tumors of the skin. They consist of a core of fibers and ducts, nerve cells, fat cells, and a covering or epidermis.

They may appear on the following body parts:

They often go unnoticed unless they are in a prominent place or are repeatedly rubbed or scratched, for example, by clothing, jewelry, or when shaving.

Some people may have skin tags and never notice them. In some cases, they rub off or fall off painlessly. Very large skin tags may burst under pressure.

The surface of skin tags may be smooth or irregular in appearance. They are often raised from the surface of the skin on fleshy peduncles, or stalks. They are usually flesh-colored or slightly brownish.

Skin tags start small, flattened like a pinhead bump. Some stay small, and some grow bigger. They can range in diameter from 1 to 5 millimeters (mm) but rarely can grow to be 1 to 2 centimeters (cm) in size.

As skin tags are usually harmless, removal is normally for aesthetic or cosmetic reasons.

Large skin tags may be removed due to irritation, especially in areas where they may rub against something, such as clothing, jewelry, or skin.

Removing a large skin tag from the face or under the arms can make shaving easier.


The following procedures may be used:

  • Cauterization: The skin tag is burned off using electrolysis
  • Cryosurgery: The skin tag is frozen off using a probe containing liquid nitrogen
  • Excision: The tag is cut out with a scalpel

These procedures should only be performed by a dermatologist, or specialist skin doctor, or a similarly trained medical professional.

Skin tags on the eyelid, especially those close to the eyelid margin, may have to be removed by an ophthalmologist, or specialist eye doctor.

Removing a skin tag at home is not recommended due to the risk of bleeding and possible infection.

Over-the-counter solutions

Over-the-counter (OTC) solutions that freeze the skin tag are available at pharmacies.

These medications are similar to those used for wart removal.

There is no evidence that removing skin tags encourages it to return or more to develop.

It is not clear exactly what causes skin tags, but it may happen when clusters of collagen and blood vessels become trapped inside thicker pieces of skin.

As they are more common in skin creases or folds, they may be mainly caused by skin rubbing against skin.

Some people appear to inherit an increased susceptibility to skin tags.

Skin tags affect both males and females, but they happen more often during pregnancy, in people who have obesity, and in people with diabetes.

They have been associated with hyperinsulinemia, when there is too much insulin circulating in the blood.

Risk factors for skin tags

Skin tags appear to be more common in:

  • people who are overweight and obese
  • those with diabetes
  • women during pregnancy, possibly due to hormonal changes and high levels of growth factors
  • those with some types of human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • people with a sex-steroid imbalance, especially if there are changes in levels of estrogen and progesterone
  • those whose close family members also have skin tags

Studies have found that skin tags are more likely to occur with:

They have also been linked to insulin resistance and elevated high-sensitive C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.

This suggests that skin tags may offer an external sign of an increased risk of:

Skin tags are also associated with Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome is a rare genetic condition characterized by skin tumors, including multiple fibrofolliculomas, trichodiscomas, and acrochordon, or skin tags. Carcinomas, or cancerous tumors, may also develop in the kidneys and colon.

PCOS is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age, characterized by enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges.

Skin tags are usually very small and harmless. However, a person should speak with a doctor if they have a skin tag that:

  • gets bigger
  • becomes painful
  • starts bleeding
  • develops into lots of skin tags

Below are some commonly asked questions about skin tags.

What removes skin tags instantly?

Excision involves cutting away a skin tag using a blade and is instant.

Cryosurgery also offers a swift method for removing skin tags. Typically, just one session of this treatment is necessary to eliminate skin tags.

Can a person cut off a skin tag with nail clippers?

Removing a skin tag carries some risks, including scarring and infection.

For this reason, it is generally not recommended that a person attempt to cut off their skin tag themselves, either with nail clippers or products sold over the counter or online.

When should a person be worried about skin tags?

On the whole, a person should not worry too much about skin tags. They are usually harmless. However, a person should speak with a doctor if their skin tag becomes painful, starts bleeding, gets bigger, or develops into lots of skin tags.

Skin tags are common benign skin growths often found where skin rubs against skin or clothing.

While generally harmless, they can be removed for cosmetic reasons or if they cause irritation.

Removal methods include cauterization, cryosurgery, excision, or ligation, which should be performed by a dermatologist or trained medical professional.

Over-the-counter solutions are also available, but it is generally not recommended that a person remove their skin tag on their own.

Skin tags are associated with various factors, including obesity, hormonal changes, and certain medical conditions.

They may indicate an increased risk of certain health issues like insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease.

If a skin tag changes in size, becomes painful, bleeds, or increases in number, it’s advisable to consult a doctor.