Next time you look in the mirror and see your skin tags, you may want to ask yourself if your ancestors are the reason why you have them. Many people ask me are skin tags hereditary. Skin tag articles claim they are but never seem to site a reliable resource. I spent hours researching for the answer and will let you know my findings.
Are skin tags hereditary? Studies have shown a genetic predisposition to the development of skin tags. This includes people with genetic disorders like Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome, diabetes and insulin resistance, obesity and hormonal imbalances.
This means even if you take the known steps to avoid risk factors associated with skin tags, it may not matter because of your genes. The genetic factors involved are on the rare side, so it shouldn’t discourage you from taking actions to help lessen your risks of getting skin tags.
How Skin Tags Can Be Hereditary
There are numerous genes passed down to you from your ancestors. Some of those genes are responsible for conditions proven to cause skin tags. The following are situations and conditions where this may occur.
Insulin Resistance and Diabetes: Some numerous studies show an association between insulin resistance, diabetes and skin tags. One study found a large percentage of people who had type 2 diabetes, also had skin tags (resource). Another study (resource) involving 216 patients with skin tags, found they were associated with impaired carbohydrate metabolism. A 2010 study involving 98 adults with skin tags, found a presence of skin tags were linked to insulin resistance (resource).
Diabetes has 2 important factors, you inherit a predisposition to it and something in your environment triggers it. Type 2 diabetes has a stronger association to family history than type 1. A study (resource) involving twins, showed genetics play a strong role in the development of type 2 diabetes. The Genetic Landscape Of Diabetes shows how various different jeans can lead to diabetes or impair the release of insulin like the gene ABCC8. These genes, passed down to you, can cause insulin resistance or diabetes, which can lead to skin tags.
Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome (BHD): This is a hereditary condition associated with multiple non-cancerous skin tumors, including skin tags (resource). Although BHD is rare, it shows another way how genetics can cause skin tags.
Obesity: Being overweight is associated with skin tags (resource). A study published in 2014 (resource) in The Egyptian Journal of Dermatology and Venereology, included 170 patients with skin tags. They found an association between skin tags and obesity. Another study published in 2017 (resource) showed a correlation between Body Mass Index and skin tags.
While there are genetic factors linked to obesity, being overweight is rarely caused by your genes. However, variations in how your weight responds to the same environment suggest genes do play a role in your weight (resource). A rare form of obesity, called monogenic obesity, appears to be caused by mutations in genes involved in appetite control and food intake (resource). In addition, common obesity, when studied in large populations, found weight variations were affected by multiple genes (resource).
These studies show how obesity can be genetic and lead to skin tags. In addition, fat folds in skin as a result of having too much body-fat, can lead to skin tags. This is so because of the friction caused by skin rubbing on other skin.
Hormonal Imbalances: Hormonal imbalances are associated with skin tags. Pregnancy hormones, like estrogen and leptin have been shown in numerous studies to be linked to skin tags (resource 1,2). Some hormonal problems are related to certain genes. Women are more susceptible to hormonal imbalances than men. Some endocrine disorders, like multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) are passed down to family members through defects in genes (resource).
Other Skin Tag Risk Factors
Pregnant women: Weight gain during pregnancy can lead to skin tags. Obesity, which is linked to skin tags also cause skin folds. The skin folds can cause excess friction from skin rubbing on other skin. In addition, pregnancy hormones are associated with skin tags.
People with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): This viral infection is passed between 2 people when making contact with each others skin. In research studies, HPV was found in 71 percent of skin tags studied. They concluded HPV may contribute to the development of skin tags (resource).
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