This article is reviewed, corrected, and approved by: Dr. Joshua Collins M.D. | MRCP। FRCP

Acrochordons, or skin tags, are harmless growths on the skin. They look like small, soft, flesh-colored flaps of skin. These bumps usually appear in parts of the body where there is friction between skin or clothing, like the neck, armpits, groin, and under the breasts.

Though the precise cause is not fully understood, experts believe that skin tags are caused by a combination of friction and genetic factors. Although skin tags don't cause any harm or pain, some people may decide to get rid of them for aesthetic reasons.

It is worth noting that skin tags are more common in adults over the age of 40, overweight individuals, and those with diabetes or certain medical conditions. So the questions arise in most people’s minds can a skin tag be cancerous? We are about to find out as I am gonna shed light upon this topic.

Can Skin Tags Cause Cancer?

No, skin tags are typically not cancerous. They are benign growths and pose no such significant health risks. Skin tags are considered harmless and do not have any chance of developing into cancer.

But remember that skin tag types are different from one another. If there are any alterations in the size, shape, color, or texture of skin growth, it is recommended to consult a skin tag removal dermatologist to receive a thorough evaluation and diagnosis.

Skin Tags vs Skin Cancer


Skin Tags

Skin Cancer


Small, soft, hanging skin growths

Irregular moles, patches, or sores on the skin


Flesh-colored or slightly darker

Varied colors, including shades of brown, black, red, or blue


Typically small, around a few millimeters

Can vary in size, may be larger or grow over time and sometimes cause pain


Usually smooth and soft

Can be rough, scaly, or ulcerated

Growth Rate


May grow relatively quickly or change in size.


Generally painless

Can be painful or itchy


Benign (non-cancerous)

Malignant (can be cancerous)

Symptoms of Skin Tag Cancer

Discoloration and change of shape of the skin tag indicates that it became cancerous. Credits: ReviewsFellas©

Although skin tag cancer is rare, there is a type of skin cancer that can develop in skin tags called acrochordon-associated skin cancer (AASC). Skin tags are harmless skin growths that hang from the body with a thin stalk. Squamous Cell Carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that is different from AASC and is known as squamous cell carcinoma.

The symptoms of AASC are similar to the symptoms of a regular skin tag, such as a small, painless growth on the skin. However, AASC may grow larger and bleed more easily than a regular skin tag. Other symptoms of skin tag are generally seen

  • Change in color: The skin tag may become darker or lighter in color.
  • Change in shape: The skin tag cancer becomes larger or more irregular in shape.
  • Change in texture: The skin tag may become thicker or bumpier.
  • Bleeding: The skin tag may bleed easily, even with minor trauma.
  • Ulceration: The skin tag may become ulcerated, which means that the surface of the skin tag breaks down.
  • Itching: The skin tags may become itchy.

Causes of Skin Tags

The origin of skin tag cancer remains uncertain. However, certain factors may elevate your chances of acquiring this condition. These may include

  1. Age: Skin tags are commonly observed on the bodies of adults; however, they can occur at any age. It can develop in individuals of all ages, not just adults. It's important to stay aware and take care of our skin no matter what age we are.
  2. Genetics: The presence of skin disease in one family member can have an effect on others.
  3. Sun exposure: Too much sun exposure can damage your skin and cause sun spots on skin and many more. Therefore staying more time under the sun cause many types of problems and increase your risk of skin cancer.
  4. Immune system: Skin tag cancer is more likely to develop in people with weakened immune systems.
  5. Certain medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as diabetes and human papillomavirus (HPV), can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

Things to Keep in Mind to Prevent Skin Tag Cancer

The essential things you need to adhere to for preventing skin tag cancer are stated below.

  • Protect your skin from the sun by avoiding exposure during peak hours (10am-4pm).
  • Look for a shade when the sun's heat is hottest; it could make you sick.
  • It is recommended to wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, sunglasses, and hats to ensure safety and prevent any potential harm.
  • Make sure to use sunscreen that protects against several harmful rays and has a high level of protection. Use high-SPF sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
  • Avoid indoor tanning beds.
  • Perform regular self-examinations of the skin and report any suspicious moles or lesions to a healthcare professional or skin tag removal dermatologist.
  • Regularly checking your skin with a dermatologist is crucial, especially if skin cancer runs in your family or you have risk factors.
  • Chronic skin inflammation or injury on the skin.
  • Multiple or atypical moles.
  • Age (risk increases with age).
  • Male gender (men are more prone to skin cancer).
  • Geographical location and higher altitude.

Treatment of Skin Tags

A person undergoing photodynamic therapy on skin tags. Credits: ReviewsFellas© 

As well as the type, stage, and location of cancer, the individual's overall health affects their treatment options for skin tags. Common treatment modalities for skin tags include:

Surgical excision

In addition to removing the cancerous growth, a margin of healthy tissue around it is removed as well. This is a conventional treatment for the majority of skin cancers.

Mohs surgery

If you have certain types of skin cancer, including skin tag cancer, Mohs surgery is a specialized technique that can help remove them. Layers of cancerous tissue are removed and examined under a microscope until no cancer cells remain. It's effective for cancers with ill-defined borders or in sensitive areas.

Radiation therapy

Radiation treatment involves the use of X-rays or powerful beams of energy to eliminate cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be recommended when surgery is not feasible or for certain types of cancer that have a high risk of recurrence.

Topical medications

Prescription creams, serums, and gels can treat skin tags without invasive procedures. They effectively combat cancer cells and offer a safe, non-surgical option.


To destroy cancerous cells, liquid nitrogen is used. This method is commonly employed for treating precancerous skin conditions and some early-stage skin cancers.

Photodynamic therapy

This therapy uses light and a photosensitizing agent to destroy cancer cells in superficial skin cancers and precancerous lesions. The targeted approach preserves healthy tissue while eliminating cancerous cells.

The choice of treatment depends on various factors and is best determined by a physician or skin tag removal dermatologist after a thorough evaluation and diagnosis. They will consider the specific characteristics of the cancer and the patient's individual circumstances to recommend the most appropriate treatment approach.

Skin Tag vs Wart

Side by side visual comparison of skin tag vs wart. Credits: ReviewsFellas©

Skin tag and wart look alike, but there are some differences between them. Here's a detailed table comparing skin tags vs warts:


Skin Tags



Small, benign growths of skin

Viral infection causing rough growths on skin


Soft, fleshy, hanging skin

Rough, raised bumps with a rough texture


Flesh-colored or slightly darker

Can be flesh-colored, pink, or brown


Commonly found in areas of friction (neck, armpits, groin, etc.)

It can be seen anywhere on the body, including the feet, face, and hands.


Exact cause is unknown; friction, genetics, and hormonal factors play a role.

Caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection


Not contagious; non-infectious

Warts are contagious, so be careful and take preventive measures to avoid spreading them.


In most cases, rubbed against clothing or jewelry, it may become irritated

Can be painful, especially when located on weight-bearing areas or subjected to pressure


Smooth or slightly wrinkled

Rough, with a cauliflower-like texture

Growth Rate

Typically slow-growing

Can grow rapidly or remain stable


Usually not necessary unless causing discomfort or cosmetic concerns; removal options include cryotherapy, snipping, tying off

Over-the-counter drugs can be used to treat it. Also, cryotherapy, and laser therapy can be used by medical expert 


Recurrence is possible, especially if the underlying factors (friction, genetics, etc.) persist

Recurrence is possible, as the virus may remain dormant in the body


Rarely associated with complications

Depending on the location and type of wart, complications may include pain, bleeding, infection, or spread to other areas

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Qs)

Q: Are skin tags cancerous?

Ans: Skin tags are typically benign growths and are not considered cancerous.

Q: What is skin tag in groin?

Ans: You may develop a harmless growth called a skin tag in your groin area, as well as in folds of skin like the armpits and neck. These growths are also referred to as acrochordons.

Q: Why does skin tag turns black?

Ans: When a skin tag turns black, it may indicate that it has undergone a process called necrosis or tissue death. This can happen if the circulatory system flows to the skin tag is cut off or otherwise obstructed.

Q: How expensive is it to remove skin tags?

Ans: Skin tag removal cost in US generally depends on location of the clinic, the method of removal used, the number of skin tags being treated, and any additional fees associated with the procedure.

Q: Does black skin tag cancer is common?

Ans: Black skin tags are generally not associated with cancer. Skin tags, including black ones, are typically benign growths and are not considered cancerous

Q: Which skin tag removal products are considered the best?

Ans: There are several skin tags remover serum, creams are widely available. Some effective of them are Bliss skin tag remover serum, Cryotag, Dr. scholl's freeze away skin tag remover. Besides this, you will find in Amazon or Walmart skin tag removers are widely available.

Q: What is icd 10 skin tag?

Ans: The ICD-10 code for skin tag is L91.8. This code is used to identify other hypertrophic disorders of the skin. Here are some other ICD-10 skin tags that may be used to describe skin tags: K64.4, Q82.8, L91.9


Skin tags are harmless growths caused by friction and genetics. They don't pose significant health risks or lead to cancer, but a rare type of skin cancer can develop within them. Preventive measures like limiting sun exposure and regular skin checks can reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Skin tags can be distinguished from warts based on appearance, cause, and potential complications. Any growth concerning changes should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.