Skin tags, also known as acrochordons, are spongy lesions on the skin. They are generally small and no more than 10mm in size. Approximately 50% of adults develop at least one skin tag in their lifetime.
Although skin tags are harmless, they can cause people to become self-conscious, especially when there are multiple skin tags present. They usually occur on the neck, skin folds, groin and armpit.
Causes for Skin Tags.
It has also been suggested that skin tags can occur due to frequent rubbing or friction (which is why they can present on or near skin folds).
Skin tags can go away on their own with time, but they are removed for cosmetic reasons.
Skin Tag Removal
Removal of skin tags is completed with a simple surgical excision, cryotherapy or applying a solution with a high concentration of salicylic acid to the lesion. However, they can re-appear months later.
There are several DIY skin tag removal overnight procedures, however, these can cause discomfort and risk infection.
Skin Tags and Insulin Resistance
Research indicates that skin tags may have medical significance. Several studies show skin tags are more prevalent in people with obesity and low serum HDL, although these findings were not consistent across all studies.
The studies that have been conducted on skin tags and metabolic disorders show there is a consistent correlation between having multiple skin tags and insulin resistance, even dating back to 1987!
What does this mean for you?
Due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance are becoming increasingly prevalent, especially in the younger population and people of ethnic origin. The combination of traditional foods that are usually high in carbohydrates combined with a sedentary lifestyle is no doubt a contributing factor to the development of metabolic disorders. Skin tags happen to be a clinical marker for insulin resistance. As a result, we should be looking at what is happening internally rather than just cosmetically.
Having skin tags does not automatically mean you have Type II diabetes. However, it is a sign of a possible underlying metabolic disorder. If you have multiple skin tags or recurring skin tags, see your doctor and keep a close eye on your insulin levels to prevent the development of Type II Diabetes in the future.
Author: Helen Huynh B Pharm MPS
- Kahanna M, et al. "Skin Tags: a Cutaneous Marker for Diabetes Mellitus." Journal of Advances in Dermatology and Venereologica. 1987; 67(2):175-7
- Rassi Abis, et al. "Skin tag as a cutanenous marker for impaired carbohydrate metaolism: a case control study." International Journal of Dermatology. 2007 Nov; 46(11):1155-9. Accessed November 20th, 2022: doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2007.03287.x.
- de Almeida Tamega A, et al. "Association between skin tags and insulin resistance." An Bras Dermatology. 2010 Jan-Feb;85(1):25-31. doi: 10.1590/s0365-05962010000100003.
- Tripathy T, et al. "Association of Skin Tag with Metabolic Syndrome and its Components: A case-control Study from Eastern India." Indian Journal of Dermatology. 2019 May-Jun;10(3):284-287. doi: 10.4103/idoj.IDOJ_238_18.
- Becky Young (2018). "Whats the link between skin tags and diabetes?" Healthline. Accessed November 20th, 2022: https://www.healthline.com/health/skin-tag-diabetes