Skin Tag

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideRosacea, Acne, Shingles: Common Adult Skin Diseases

Rosacea, Acne, Shingles: Common Adult Skin Diseases

What else could it be?

While classic skin tags are typically very characteristic in appearance and occur in specific locations such as the underarms, necks, under breasts, eyelids and groin folds, there are tags that may occur in less obvious locations.

Other skin growths that may look similar to a skin tag but are not tags include moles (dermal nevus), nerve and fiber-type moles (neurofibromas), warts, and "barnacles" or the so-called "Rice Krispies" (seborrheic keratoses).

Warts tend to be rougher, with a "warty" irregular surface whereas skin tags are usually smooth. Warts tend to be flat whereas tags are more like bumps hanging from thin stalk. While warts are almost entirely caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), tags are only sometimes associated with HPV.

Groin and genital lesions resembling skin tags may actually be genital warts or condyloma. A biopsy would help diagnose which of these growths are not skin tags. Very rarely, a basal cell skin or squamous cancer or melanoma may mimic a skin tag, but this is very uncommon.

Are there vaginal skin tags?

While typical skin tags are not usually seen in the vagina or in other moist, mucosal surfaces, there are other types of benign polyps that occur in these areas. Irritation polyps or soft fibromas may occur on vaginal areas, mouth, and anal skin. Skin tags most commonly occur on dry skin like the neck, armpits, and groin folds. Genital warts, which are growths caused by a sexually transmitted virus HPV, need to be considered in the possible diagnosis for growths in genital areas.

Skin tags may infrequently occur at the external genitalia like the labia majora and labia minora. Again, sexually transmitted viral conditions like genital warts may need to be ruled out by tissue biopsy of growths in this area.

Can you get skin tags on the penis and scrotum?

Skin tags may occur at unusual sites like the penis, scrotum, and opening of the penis tip. Sexually transmitted viral conditions (HPV) like genital warts in the genital area can require a tissue biopsy for diagnosis. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 2/17/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Fitzpatrick, Thomas B., et al. Dermatology in General Medicine. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993.

Schwartz, Robert A. "Acrochordon." Medscape.com. Apr. 25, 2011. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1060373-overview>.

Shah, R., A. Jindal, and N.M. Patel. "Acrochordons as a Cutaneous Sign of Metabolic Syndrome: A Case-Control Study." Ann Med Health Sci Res 4.2 Mar.-Apr. 2014: 202-205.

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2. iStock, Schweintechnik

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7. iStock, LWozniak & KWZielinski

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13. Getty Images

14. Dr. Nili N. Alai

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