Skin tags, sometimes called "skin tabs" by patients, are soft, fleshy growths that protrude from the skin. They often look like tiny balloons on a narrow stalk, and they are one of the more common skin growths that we see and treat. Tags are acquired, meaning that most people are not born with them. They appear throughout life, and both men and women are equally susceptible. There is often a genetic tendency to develop tags, but they can also occur with changes in weight, pregnancy, and friction or chronic rubbing.
Skin tags can occur anywhere on the body, but there are more common in areas that are prone to rubbing or friction. These areas include the eyelids, neck, armpits, chest, and groin, which are areas where the skin either rubs against itself or against jewelry or clothing.
Tags are essentially harmless, and they don't have to be removed unless they are bothersome. Frequently, they may get irritated from rubbing or trauma, or they may make it difficult to wear certain necklaces or collared shirts. They might get snagged by clothing, jewelry, seat belts, children, or pets resulting in pain or discomfort. Occasionally, they will bleed or turn black from twisting and death of the skin tissue. Overall, however, they are very benign growths with no potential to turn into cancer. The most common reason for removal is for cosmetic reasons. Removal is quick, easy, and relatively painless.