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Skin tags (acrochordons) are small flesh-coloured or brown growths that hang off the skin and look a bit like warts. They're very common and harmless.
Skin tags can vary in size from a few millimetres up to 5cm wide.
They're usually found on the neck, armpits, around the groin, or under the breasts. They can also grow on the eyelids or under the folds of the buttocks.
Anyone can develop skin tags, but they're particularly common in older people and people with diabetes. Pregnant women may be more likely to develop skin tags, caused by changes in their hormone levels. Some people develop them for no apparent reason.
Skin tags tend to grow where skin rubs against skin or clothing. This would explain why they also tend to affect overweight people or younger children who have excess folds of skin and skin chafing.
Skin tags are harmless and don't usually cause pain or discomfort.
However, you may want to consider getting them removed if they are unsightly and affect your self-esteem, or if they snag on clothing or jewellery and bleed. You'll usually need to pay for this procedure privately.
This is because the removal of skin tags is regarded as cosmetic surgery, which is rarely available through the NHS. Generally, the NHS will only carry out cosmetic surgery procedures if the problem is affecting your physical or mental health.
Sometimes, skin tags fall off on their own if the tissue has twisted and died from a lack of blood supply.
If a skin tag is upsetting you, consider making an appointment with a privately practising GP to have it removed.
Skin tags can easily be burnt or frozen off in a similar way to how warts are removed. They can also be surgically removed, sometimes using local anaesthetic.
If your skin tag is small with a narrow base, the GP may suggest you try removing it yourself by:
Don't attempt to remove large skin tags yourself because they will bleed heavily.
Here's how to tell the difference:
Read more about warts.
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