Acrochordons, more commonly known as skin tags, are one of the most common skin conditions. Although they aren’t contagious, somewhere around half the population suffer from skin tags at any one time. Your chance of developing skin tags rises with age. If they become irritated, a rash could form in a nearby area. It’s also possible that skin tags are confused with more problematic skin issues.
Despite being so prevalent, skin tags are NOT considered as worrying as other skin problems. After all, they are benign and non-contagious. Since they can appear similar to other skin conditions, it can be difficult to be sure exactly what they are, what causes them or whether you should be concerned about them. It’s important that you make an accurate self-diagnosis or get the opinion of a medical doctor (if you’re unsure).
It can be quite unsettling to find that you have developed skin tags, especially if you have never had them before. Many people find them embarrassing, and unattractive to look at – especially if they are in a highly visible position. They are not aesthetically attractive.
There are many skin tag removal methods at home that can be used to correct the situation. But if you choose not to treat them, could they cause a rash, or pose any other problem for your health? And if you find that you have developed a rash near your skin tags, what exactly could be causing it? The following guide will tell you everything you need to know.
Do I Really Have Skin Tags?
So you think you have skin tags – but what are they? This may surprise you to hear, but skin tags are miniature tumors. Before you start panicking, you should know that they are benign growths. They are not a sign of cancer or anything severe.
Skin tags are named as such because they hang off the skin on the end of a stalk. They look like soft, smooth, skin-colored bumps. They can sometimes resemble a deflated balloon. Skin tags are typically quite small, only a few millimeters long. That being said, their size can vary. And depending on where your skin tag is located, you might notice it growing larger with time. Skin tags are made up of skin cells, collagen, blood vessels, and fat cells.
Sometimes, one single skin tag can form on its own. However, it is also common for many skin tags to form a cluster in one area. The most common areas are the neck, armpit, groin, anus, and eyes, though skin tags can develop anywhere on the body.
Occasionally, skin tags can be confused with other skin conditions. Most commonly, skin tags are mistaken for warts, as the two can look quite similar. However, warts are usually rough-textured, whereas skin tags are smooth. Warts are also often flatter than skin tags. Warts are also caused by the HPV virus, which is not associated with skin tags.
What Are the Reasons for Skin Tags?
Unlike other skin conditions, which can have a viral, fungal or bacterial cause, the same does not apply to skin tags. Warts, as mentioned above, are caused by HPV (human papillomavirus) – they are a direct symptom of having caught the virus. Skin tags are a little more mysterious. They have various causes, and nobody is precisely sure why they develop.
The most popular theory is that skin tags are caused by friction. Patches of skin that are frequently rubbed or chafed are more likely to develop skin tags. This friction is often a product of the skin rubbing up against itself, which is why they form in skin folds. For example, skin tags are commonly found in the armpit due to the friction from moving your arm. However, friction can also come from clothing or jewelry. That’s why a lot of men get skin tags around their neck, where they may wear a collar or a tie.
Skin tags can also have a genetic cause. Studies have shown that if your parents are prone to skin tags, you are far more likely to develop them yourself. Scientists have not yet been able to identify a single gene responsible for skin tags, though.
There are also other causes. Hormonal fluctuations can be responsible for more skin tags appearing, which is why they are a common symptom of pregnancy. You are also more likely to develop skin tags if you have diabetes, due to skin tags being associated with high blood sugar levels. Being overweight or obese can also put you more at risk of developing skin tags.
Skin Tags and Rashes
A rash is a reddened area of the skin which may be itchy, bumpy or painful to the touch. Rashes may be flat or raised, and they may occur in small or large patches. Rashes can have many different causes. If you have a rash in the same area as one or more skin tags, you may be wondering if the skin tag has caused the rash.
Skin tags are a benign condition. This means that while they may be annoying or look unpleasant, they don’t tend to cause any harm. As skin tags are not caused by a virus or infection, there are no negative symptoms associated with them. So for that reason, skin tags don’t directly cause rashes.
- Important: a rash can often appear in the same area as a skin tag. This is because skin tags usually grow on areas of the skin that are exposed to repeated friction. This friction or chafing can also cause skin reddening and irritation, leading to a rash. So if an area of your skin is being irritated every day, for example by a tight piece of clothing, a rash could appear in the same place as a skin tag. This does not mean that the skin tag itself caused the rash, but rather they both have the same cause.
You may also cause a rash by continually scratching, picking at or pulling on your skin tags. Skin tags are not itchy, but they can be quite bothersome. If you find that you consistently touch or play with your skin tags, to the point where you begin causing a rash, you should look into having them removed.
What Else Could It Be?
If you have a rash in the same area as a skin tag, but you haven’t been bothering or picking at it, your rash could be completely unrelated. There’s a chance that your rash has a separate cause, and the fact that it appeared near your skin tag could be a coincidence. There are many different types of rash. Depending on what your rash looks like, or when and where it occurs, you may be able to identify what is causing it.
- Rashes are commonly caused by allergic reactions. You may have an allergy to a specific food, medicine, or skin product. Some people are even allergic to certain kinds of detergent. So if you notice that you develop a rash after eating a particular food or using a particular product, this may be your answer.
- You may also be suffering from a condition such as eczema (dermatitis) or psoriasis. These conditions cause itchy, red, dry patches on the skin. These patches can also be flaky or scaly, especially in psoriasis. Psoriasis is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, whereas the cause of eczema is not fully understood yet. Eczema and psoriasis can usually be kept at bay using medicinal creams, though they are hard to cure outright.
Of course, your rash may be caused by something else entirely. If you have a persistent rash and you aren’t sure what’s triggering it, especially if you have other symptoms such as fever or feeling unwell, you should visit your doctor.
What Should I Do?
If you have caused a rash by touching or picking at skin tags, you may want to look into having your skin tags removed. By removing your skin tags, you won’t have anything to pick at or play with, and your skin will no longer become irritated.
There are many different ways to do this. A very popular method is called ligation (or ‘tying off’) and is accomplished by tying a band around the skin tag to cut off blood circulation. This results in the skin tag dropping off. This can be carried out by a medical professional, but you can also do it yourself at home with a kit. You can also freeze skin tags off using liquid nitrogen, or burn them off using cauterization. Some people even use essential oils such as tea tree oil as a more gentle method of removal.
However, if you think that your rash may be caused by something other than irritation and chafing, it is essential to visit a doctor. Rashes can be caused by a number of different skin conditions and illnesses, so you ought to have your rash properly examined.
Your doctor will be able to diagnose your rash by examining it, and may even take a biopsy to check for a fungal or bacterial infection. They will then be able to advise you on the proper treatment method and prognosis.