Cutaneous Manifestations of Nutritional Excess: Pathophysiologic Effects of Hyperglycemia and Hyperinsulinemia on the Skin

Steven A. Svoboda, BS; Bridget E. Shields, MD


Cutis. 2021;107(2):74-78. 

In This Article


Acrochordons (skin tags) are common benign fibroepithelial polyps that classically present on the face, neck, and trunk. The underlying mechanism responsible for the development of acrochordons is uncertain, but the association with insulin resistance and impaired carbohydrate metabolism is well validated.[40,41,42,43,44,45,46] Several large cross-sectional and case-control studies have reported rates of T2DM ranging from 23% to 72% in patients with acrochordons.[41,42,47] The pathophysiology may involve an increase in tissue and epidermal growth factors driven by elevated serum insulin levels, stimulation of IGF-1 receptors, and a localized proliferation of cutaneous tissue in elastin-poor areas.[45,48,49] Interestingly, the quantity of acrochordons has been positively correlated with fasting blood glucose levels. Additionally, the presence of 30 or more acrochordons was found to increase the risk of developing T2DM.[41] Therefore, the presence and number of acrochordons may serve as a convenient indicator of systemic glycemic control and insulin resistance. Screening for T2DM is warranted in individuals without a prior diagnosis who present with multiple acrochordons.