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What Are Common Causes of a Tongue Skin Tag?

Age and obesity may increase the likelihood of tongue skin tags.
Increases in hormone levels may cause tongue skin tags.
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  • Written By: Marco Sumayao
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2014
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Experts believe that the most common cause of a tongue skin tag is friction — small, loose fleshy growths can appear on areas where skin frequently rubs against skin. Age and obesity have been found to increase the likelihood of skin tags developing in individuals. Significant increases in hormone levels are also correlated with skin tag development. In some cases, people can confuse small folds in the plica fimbriata, a natural structure of the tongue, for skin tags; in others, it could be a wart rather than an actual tag. The only serious possible cause for a tongue skin tag is mouth cancer, although these cases are much rarer than others.

The chance a single individual has of developing a tongue skin tag depends on a number of factors. Studies have found that older individuals tend to have them more than young people and overweight individuals have an increased risk of developing the growths over normal-weight or thin people. Heredity also plays a role, as some people can be more prone to having skin tags than others. Tongue skin tags are generally more uncommon than those that develop in other areas, although this could be a result of the tongue tags simply being less noticeable than ones on the neck and other common places.

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Many individuals mistake the plica fimbriata, the small fold of the mucous membrane on the bottom side of the tongue, for a skin tag. The membrane can extend a smaller fold slightly outward, creating a bump that feel like a tongue skin tag. These bumps are naturally-occurring and require no treatment.

Although uncommon, the tongue can develop warts when exposed to human papillomavirus (HPV). These bumps can also be mistaken for tongue skin tags, but differ from the plica fimbriata folds largely because they are highly contagious. Individuals who suspect they have warts inside the mouth should refrain from exposing others to the virus and seek treatment immediately, as warts thrive in the mouth's warm, moist environment. The warts can be cut, cauterized, or frozen off.

If a tongue skin tag appears either reddish or whitish in color and occurs in only one side of the mouth, the patient should have the growth checked by a doctor. Tags that match the description and cause no discomfort might be symptomatic of oral cancer. A tongue skin tag biopsy should be performed to determine whether or not the growth is cancerous. If it is, patients should seek immediate treatment.

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anon345740
Post 5

HPV cannot be treated with the antibiotics as it is a virus. However, the common cause of tongue tag looking warts from HPV are by types 6 and 11, and according to online sources, are not contagious.

anon291539
Post 4

Is there any chance that it will reoccur after surgery? What is the difference between a skin tag and an oral wart? Is it expensive to have it removed? How about the post surgery feeling?

SarahGen
Post 3

@turkay1, @feruze-- Did you guys know that steroids can cause skin tags?

I knew that being overweight, pregnant and having diabetes were risk factors for skin tags but I didn't know that steroid use was a risk factor as well. My brother who has been on prescribed steroids for pain relief started getting skin tags on his neck, armpits and eyelids. He even got a few on his tongue. I didn't even know it was possible to get them on the tongue until it happened to my brother.

For a long time, he couldn't figure out why he was getting so many skin tags all of the sudden. Finally my uncle, who is a dermatologist, was able to shed some light on it. It turns out that steroids makes the collagen and fibers in our skin bind to each other and that causes skin tags. Who knew.

bear78
Post 2

@turkay1-- Yea, the main cause is friction, usually when skin rubs against skin. But there could be other reasons too, like abnormal cell growth (cancer) or when the skin is trying to heal itself (like cuts or fissures).

I had a skin tag form soon after a tongue piercing. My doctor said that while my skin was trying to heal from the piercing, scar tissue piled in the area and resulted in the skin tag.

Thankfully, having it removed was really easy. My doctor first froze it and then cut it off. It was not painful and it healed very quickly.

candyquilt
Post 1

I thought that skin tags happen when the skin folds over and there is friction between them. But how does that happen on the tongue?

I have a skin tag on the tip of my tongue. It appeared out of nowhere a couple of days ago. It hurts a little bit because it gets irritated while I talk and eat.

I asked my dentist about it over the phone and he said it can happen but he didn't really explain how. I just hope it's not anything serious. I have an appointment next week to have my doctor check it out and probably remove it.

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