In themselves, skin tags are considered to be benign and harmless. However, there has been scientific research to suggest that skin tags could be a sign of poor health. In this post, we look at the various health conditions that have been linked to this skin condition.
Skin tags are common among the population and are not a cause for concern. For most people, they are a cosmetic issue more than anything else. This is why many people choose to have them removed – either at home or by a dermatologist.
But if we consider the causes behind skin tags, could they be a symptom of a more serious health issue? We’ll now look at the potential links between skin tags and diabetes, cancer and weight gain. Read on for information on the various health concerns.
Are Skin Tags a Health Risk?
The short answer here is ‘probably not.’ Skin tags are usually considered to be harmless and no more than an eyesore. They can be caused by some different factors. These include the following:
- Collagen and blood vessels becoming twisted in the thicker layer of the skin.
- Layers of skin rubbing against each other, for example in skin folds such as the genital area or underarms.
- Hormonal changes in women, for example during pregnancy.
However, there is some medical research to suggest that developing skin tags could be a symptom of deteriorating health. This is because certain health conditions could contribute towards the factors that cause skin tags. This would make an outbreak of skin tags a warning sign that something more serious may be wrong. Let’s take a closer look at why they happen.
What Exactly Is a Skin Tag?
Skin tags affect people of all ages and genders. They appear in the form of tiny flaps of skin, most commonly found in the neck, groin or around the eyes. They aren’t a health issue in themselves, but many people choose to have them removed because they don’t look nice, especially if they’re larger than average or you have a small cluster of skin tags.
Skin Tags as a Symptom of Obesity
A study published in the Spanish scientific journal “Actas Dermo-Sifiliográficas” looked at the link between skin tags and obesity. The study was named “Skin disorders in overweight and obese patients and their relationship with insulin” and lead by a doctor named Gómez.
The authors wanted to discover if skin tags could be a symptom of an underlying metabolic issue. They looked at 109 people suffering from obesity to see what they could find.
- Fact: 77% of the 109 obese patients had skin tags on their body.
The research also looked for a link between the level of obesity and the number of skin tags. Unsurprisingly, they found that numbers of skin tags increased in line with the level of obesity.
This is most likely because skin tags are caused by friction and rubbing in skin folds. Obese people will naturally have more folds in their skin due to their increased fat levels. Therefore, they are more likely to develop skin tags as a result.
Of course, most people do not need to find a skin tag to determine whether or not they are obese. Obesity can lead to a huge range of health problems and complications. Therefore, it helps to see a doctor or make positive lifestyle changes if you’re worried about your weight.
Skin Tags & Their Link to Diabetes
As well as obesity, Gómez’s research found that skin tags were a symptom of another health condition. The researchers found a significant link between skin tags and insulin levels. This suggests skin tags could be a potential early warning sign of diabetes.
- Fact: 29 million + Americans have diabetes, and another 86 million adults have prediabetes (according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention).
The same results were found in a study by Brazilian scientist de Almeida in the journal “Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia,” a Brazilian publication focusing on skin health. The study showed a significant link between the presence of skin tags and insulin resistance.
It is thought that the inability to properly regulate blood sugar levels, which is the cause of diabetes, also increases systemic inflammation levels. This inflammation, in turn, causes abnormal cell turnover in the skin, leading to increased skin tags.
Another potential cause of the skin tags is a dietary imbalance. For example, an imbalance of fatty acids in the diet can lead to excess inflammation and poor cell membrane health. A lack of Vitamin A can also affect the ability of cells to divide healthily.
If you’re concerned about diabetes, you should seek professional medical advice. However, these dietary imbalances, and therefore blood glucose levels, can easily be improved in several ways:
- Exercise regularly, ideally for 150 minutes every week.
- Get plenty of soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet, preferably from fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Reduce simple sugars in your diet.
- Eat whole grain and less processed foods.
- Reduce and learn to manage your stress levels. For example, through yoga or meditation.
Are Skin Tags An Indication of Cancer?
Skin tags are defined by experts as a form of benign tumor. However, they are not usually malignant and shouldn’t pose a health threat on their own. However, it’s important to monitor their growth and appearance regularly. Do they look different to the way they were a month ago?
In rare cases, a skin tag could be cancerous. Note that a black skin tag isn’t ‘necessarily’ a sign of cancer. They can become twisted and deprived of blood. When this happens, they may fall off on their own. People become alarmed when a skin tag suddenly turns dark.
You’re more likely to be at risk if you’ve spent a lot of time exposed to direct sunlight. If your skin tag changes size or color very quickly, you may want to contact your dermatologist for a consultation. They will be able to test the skin tag, possibly performing a biopsy, to put your mind at rest.
What To Do if You’re Worried About a Skin Tag
If you have skin tags and are worried that yours may be a warning sign for poor health, you should consider visiting a doctor for a check up. Skin tags themselves are harmless and can be removed at home through some different methods, such as the TagBand skin tag removal device. But if your skin tag is a symptom of an underlying condition, you should seek expert advice as soon as possible.