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Skin Tags in Children: Could They Signal Health Risks?

Skin Tags in Children

Skin tags in children are non-cancerous growths that develop when the skin area rubs against itself. But are they just a cosmetic concern or can they lead to more issues?

A new study published in Pediatric Dermatology explored a possible risk between common skin growths like acrochordons and childhood health issues (metabolic syndrome, and obesity, in particular).

Acrochordons include skin tags, papilloma, and skin tags. These are commonly found in the axilla, groin, and neck areas.

Skin Tags and Obesity: Finding A Link

The researchers went through the medical records of children diagnosed with skin tags at a dermatology clinic from 2000 to 2021.

They compared blood work, weight, and physical exams to analyze the risk for obesity and metabolic syndrome.

The authors concluded that children with skin tags had a higher chance of being overweight or obese as compared to the general population.

Similarly, they were at a higher risk of conditions linked to metabolic syndromes (like T2DM and high blood pressure).

The table below summarizes the important findings:


Study Cohort


Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus5.5%1.9%
Median BMI2720
Median Triglycerides12074
Median AST2318
Median ALT2610
Median HDL4654

Why this matters:

In 2019 a study found that adults with acrochordons were more likely to suffer from metabolic syndromes than those without skin tags [ref].

The current study’s findings show that this risk is prevalent in children with skin tags as well.

If further research also confirms these findings then skin tags can help in early detection of metabolic syndrome.

This way parents could take preventive measures to stop the disease’s progression.

Future research and limitations of this study:

  • The study’s sample was taken from a single center, so the results might not apply to everyone.
  • The retrospective design was unable to prove that acrochordons can cause metabolic issues. It only showed that they were linked.
  • We need larger and prospective studies to solidify this link.

Understanding Skin Tags in Children

Skin tags are very common. It affects about 46% of the general population [Ref]. Commonly, skin tags are found in the axilla, groin, and neck areas.

What Causes Skin Tags in Children?

Currently, we do not know what causes skin tags but some factors can be associated with this development.

  • Genetics:

We know that skin tags run in families so, there could be chances of genetic predisposition.

  • Friction:

These overgrowths are mostly found in areas where the skin is rubbing against itself, like the neck, armpits, groin, and eyelids. So, friction could be another cause. [ref]

  • Insulin Resistance:

Studies have also related insulin resistance (which leads to type-2 diabetes) to skin tag development.

Therefore, children who are overweight/obese could have skin tags based on this connection.

  • Pregnancy:

Furthermore, hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to skin tags in some women. Even though this is less common still the influence might extend to children during puberty.

Symptoms of Skin Tags:

  • Small:

They usually range in size from a few millimeters to a centimeter (less than half an inch) in diameter.

  • Soft and fleshy:

They have a smooth, skin-colored, or slightly darker surface.

  • Pedunculated:

They hang off the skin by a narrow stalk.

  • Location

Skin tags most commonly appear in areas where skin rubs together, such as:

  • Neck
  • Armpits
  • Groin
  • Eyelids
  • Under the breasts

Differentiating skin tags from other growths

They can sometimes be confused with other skin growths, but there are some differences:

  • Warts:

A virus causes warts, which are most common on the hands and feet. Their texture is usually rougher and they can resemble cauliflower.

  • Moles:

These are usually flat and can be in various pigments, including brown, black, pink, or tan. They may appear anywhere on the body and can also be present at birth or develop over time.

Here’s a table summarizing the key differences:


Skin tag



CauseUnknown, possibly frictionVirusGenetics, sun exposure
LocationFolds of skin, neck, armpits, etc.Hands, feetAnywhere on the body
AppearanceSoft, fleshy, pedunculatedRough, cauliflower-likeFlat, various colors

When to see a doctor:

Skin tags are harmless but that should not stop you from seeing a doctor if you notice any of the following.

  • Changes in size, shape, or color of the skin tag.
  • A skin tag that grows quickly.
  • One that is irritated, inflamed, or bleeds.
  • If a child develops many skin tags suddenly, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
  • Always seek medical advice from a professional if you are not sure if growth is a skin tag or something else.

How to Remove Skin Tags?

There are no effective medical treatments available to clear your skin of skin tags. Medical treatments are not effective.

Why removal might be considered?

These tags are benign and do not require any treatment. Nevertheless, there might be a few instances when a parent could choose to get their child’s skin tag removed.

  • It might be advised to remove the skin tag if it is irritating people when it rubs against jewelry or clothing.
  • The appearance of a skin tag may cause self-consciousness in some children, especially if it is in a prominent place.

Interventions to remove Skin Tags currently practiced:



CryotherapyLiquid nitrogen is used by the doctor to freeze the skin tag, causing it to die and fall off in a few weeks.
CauterizationThe physician removes the skin tag by burning it off with a heated tool.
LigationThe physician cuts off the blood supply at the base of the skin tag which leads it to shrink and fall off.

Recovery and aftercare

Once the tag is removed a small wound will be present which should be cared for otherwise an infection will be waiting for you. These are some instructions that a doctor will give you to care for that spot.

  • Keep the wound clean and dry
  • Apply a bandage to the wound
  • Avoid scratching or picking at the wound

What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

Here is a link to My Facebook Page. You can also contact me by email at or at My Twitter Account
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