If you feel growths of skin around the anus that is itchy and bothersome, it may be anal skin tags. They can result from hemorrhoids, scarring in the anal area, or chronic skin irritation and appear like a bump when you touch them. If you are concerned about your anal tags turning serious or being a warning sign of some underlying condition, schedule an appointment with nearby gastroenterologists at Manhattan Gastroenterology to have your skin growths checked using the latest technology. The top-rated gastro doctors NYC can accurately diagnose the anal growth and discuss removal options if they seem to be the only way to provide relief from the bumps or lumps in your anus. They can also help you prevent anal skin tags by maintaining good anal health, practicing better hygiene, and avoiding friction that could cause further complications.

Skin tags are bits of soft tissue that protrude from the skin and vary in size. Most skin tags are small and are the same color as your normal skin or slightly darker.

Skin can develop tags at any point in time, and usually, friction is the culprit behind them. These tags are commonly observed at the neck, where they result from wearing necklaces and clothing, armpits from the skin to skin friction, and clothing. Anal tags are also prevalent and result from several factors related to gastrointestinal issues.

What Are Anal Skin Tags?

An anal skin tag is excess growth of skin around the anus. Anal skin tags are almost always benign and rarely cause pain, but they can cause discomfort and itching. Skin tags on the anus are much more difficult to see. They are usually detected when you use the bathroom or take a shower.

Most of the time, skin tags go unnoticed as they do not cause any painful symptoms. Excessive rubbing and cleaning are known ways that worsen anal skin tags. If they are not painful, they are not a concerning matter, but if they become bothersome, you can have them removed surgically.

What Causes Anal Skin Tags?

Anal Skin Tags
Anal Skin Tags

There may be several causes for anal skin tags. They include:

Genetics – A family history of anal skin tags can lead to these annoyances.

Friction or irritation – Skin tags can develop due to friction and irritation in the area due to exercise, prolonged sitting, or tight clothing.

Diarrhea – Persistent loose stools can irritate the skin around the anus. Too much acidity and over wiping from rough toilet paper can also lead to the formation of skin tags.

Constipation – The skin has to stretch to accommodate the large or hard stool, and excessive straining can put pressure on the area, resulting in bulging blood vessels. When the skin fails to return to its original shape after straining or stretching, it can lead to skin tags.

Scarring – Anal skin tags can appear after scarring when the anus heals from certain conditions, like anal fissures.

Hemorrhoids – They are swollen and inflamed veins in the anus or rectum. As hemorrhoids shrink and heal, some stretched-out skin may remain behind, which can form a skin tag.

Crohn’s disease – It involves inflammation of the intestines that can result in recurring diarrhea and constipation, among other symptoms. People already suffering from Crohn’s disease are more likely to anal develop skin tags.

Diagnosing Anal Skin Tags

Anal skin tags are benign, but unusual-looking tags or pain may indicate something serious. It may be a good idea to see your doctor to confirm that the bulge or lump you are feeling is a skin tag and not something else, like a tumor or blood clot.

When a skin tag is easily visible, it can be diagnosed with a physical exam. The doctor will recommend the best options for removing it, including surgery. In the case of an internal skin tag, the doctor may have to examine the inside of the rectum to check for abnormal growth and make an accurate diagnosis.

The doctor may use the following to check for internal skin tags:

  • Rectal exam – The doctor puts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for unusual structures inside the rectum or anus. It may be a bit uncomfortable but gets over quickly.
  • Anoscopy – You will be required to take a laxative or enema to clear your bowels before the procedure. A thin, rigid tool with a light on one end, known as an anoscope, is inserted into the rectum to check for skin tags. During this procedure, the doctor can also take a biopsy if needed.
  • Sigmoidoscopy – It is a test that checks the rectum and the last part of the colon, known as the sigmoid colon. An instrument called a sigmoidoscope is inserted through the rectum and moved up the large intestine to look for abnormalities. This test is not necessary for simple skin tags. It is only required if the doctor suspects another cause for a lump in the anal area, such as polyps or growths. You will be asked to take a laxative or enema beforehand to clean out the bowel.

Treating Anal Skin Tags

Anal skin tags do not go away on their own. If hemorrhoids and anal fissures are causing your skin tags, treating these conditions first may help you seek relief. You should consult a doctor if a previously diagnosed anal skin tag suddenly changes its size or color or starts bothering you.

If there are no symptoms, no treatment is needed, but if symptoms cannot be relieved by other measures, skin tags must be taken out. For most people, skin tags in delicate areas can become uncomfortable, and removing the extra tissue is the only way to treat it.

Removal of Anal Skin Tags

Removal is the best option for getting rid of anal skin tags, and it is a simple routine office procedure. A numbing solution is rubbed onto the site before removal. Recovery time is fast, and you have to rest for the day with no heavy lifting. It is a painless process, and you can resume normal activities within a few days.

The process of removing the skin tag is quite simple and fast. The doctor may use the following methods:

  • Simple or scissor excision – Scissors or scalpel are used for cutting away the excess skin.
  • Laser – The skin tag is cauterized with a laser.
  • Cryosurgery or cryotherapy – Liquid nitrogen freezes the skin tag, which then falls off in a few days, without requiring further handling.
  • Electrocautery – An electrical current is applied to the skin to dry out the tissue.

To prevent complications, your doctor may remove only one anal skin tag at a time. It gives the affected area time to heal and reduces the risk of infection from stool or bacteria. Getting skin tags removed timely gives you a chance to live without discomfort or unsightly bumps.

To keep the skin tags from recurring after the surgery, you must avoid habits that lead to them. It could be something as easy as making dietary or lifestyle changes. You should also develop good toilet and bowel habits and avoid rubbing or cleaning your anus too much or harshly.

How to Prevent Anal Skin Tags?

To prevent anal skin tags, you must first find out what may be causing them. It is not always possible to prevent skin tags, especially if a genetic factor is involved.

Follow these helpful tips to prevent skin tags or reduce their occurrence:

  • Keep your bowel habits regular by incorporating a high fiber diet and drinking plenty of water
  • Avoid straining
  • Limit the time spent sitting on the toilet
  • Wear breathable underwear
  • Avoid excessive wiping after using the restroom
  • Maintain your weight as overweight people are more likely to develop skin tags

If you suffer from some medical condition like Crohn’s disease, see your gastroenterologist regularly. Taking your medications timely and following the physician’s advice may help you keep them away.

Why You Should Avoid Home Remedies for Anal Skin Tags

It is best to avoid using home remedies for treating skin tags as there is no guarantee of getting rid of skin tag tissue or having it removed like surgery. With anal skin tags, many home remedies like apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, and vitamin E are much too stronger for the sensitive skin on the anus. Anus is a sensitive area and they can end up causing even more irritation and do more harm than good.

Over-the-counter products like freezing kits can also be too strong for the anus or the rectum in certain cases if the tissue is up closer, and they are not effective for long-term use. You may be at risk of bleeding or infection from at-home anal skin tag removal kits or other remedies. Call your doctor to learn about the safest, most effective treatment options for anal skin tag removal.

Anal skin tags can be annoying and uncomfortable, but they are usually not a matter of great concern unless they turn itchy or painful. A lump or bump in the anal area should be thoroughly examined by a doctor to determine if it is something more serious than a hemorrhoid, which needs treatment. The board-certified and experienced gastroenterologists at Manhattan Gastroenterology specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to the gastrointestinal tract, including hemorrhoids and anal skin tags. They use the latest technological advancements to remove them without causing any more complications and help you enjoy a pain and hassle-free life.

Updated on Sep 1, 2023 by Dr. Shawn Khodadadian (Gastroenterologist) of Manhattan Gastroenterology