Anal skin tags, similar to skin tags found anywhere else on the body, appear as small flesh colored flaps of skin. They usually have a smooth outer appearance, but can also have a wrinkled look. These skin tags are generally small but do have the ability to grow, and they can appear either internally and externally. If they are not causing irritation or getting in your way, they are not required to be removed. Many people choose to remove them nonetheless because as they grow, removing them can become more difficult. They can also easily become irritated by the rubbing of skin and toilet paper against them.
Causes of Anal Skin Tags
Hemorrhoids – This is one of the main reasons for anal skin tags. When the hemorrhoid swelling occurs and then reduces, the skin where the swelling stretched the skin causes an anal skin tag or hemorrhoid skin tag.
Crohn’s Disease – Patients with Crohn’s disease generally form more hemorrhoids and anal swelling. The increased swelling in the area means that a high percentage of people with Crohn’s disease will develop anal skin tags.
Anal fissure – Anal fissures are caused by a tear in the anal canal. Skin tags will sometimes form on these fissures and can cause some further discomfort. Removing the skin tag without removing the fissure is only temporarily solving the problem, as without removing the fissure, a new skin tag will most likely form on it.
Pregnancy – Many women experience skin tags during pregnancy. They can appear anywhere on the expectant mother’s body, due to the hormone imbalance caused during this time. Anal skin tags are very common though because as well as hormones playing a part, many women will also experience hemorrhoids from the additional weight on their pelvic floor as well as the intense pushing during childbirth.
Symptoms of Anal Skin Tags
Skin tags don’t generally cause symptoms other than their appearance. They may sometimes itch though. Because anal skin tags are constantly being rubbed due to their location, they may have more susceptibility to itching and irritation. The larger the skin tag becomes, the more symptoms it may produce, such as a more intense itching, rash, swelling, and feeling of heaviness. There is no need to remove anal skin tags, as they are harmless growths, however, if they do hurt or bleed, you should seek medical advice.
How to treat skin tags on the anus
Please do not attempt to remove anal skin tags yourself at home. You should see your doctor about these.
Anal skin tags can easily be confused for hemorrhoids and vice versa. Anal fissures are also commonly misdiagnosed with skin tags. Colon and rectal surgeons are the best qualified and familiar with the area to correctly diagnose them.
Removing Anal Skin Tags
Anal skin tags can usually be removed in the doctor’s office with a local anesthetic. Each doctor and circumstances may differ. Some doctors require you to have fasted prior to anal skin tag removal.
If you are just having one small skin tag removed, the doctor can usually do it in his office using a local anesthetic. For multiple skin tags, a surgery under general anesthesia may be required.
To remove an external anal skin tag your doctor will simply cut them off. If necessary, dissolvable stitches may be used to seal the removal site.
You may have heard about ligation for anal skin tags. This is only for internal skin tags and your doctor will not ligate external skin tags due to the sensitive skin in this area. It goes without saying, do not try to ligate internal skin tags yourself.
Aftercare of anal skin tag removal
Once the local anesthetic wears off, you may experience a bit of discomfort and require painkillers. This may last for 24 to 48 hours.
Be gentle with the area. After a bowel movement, clean the area well with some soap and water to avoid infection. You can also try a warm salt bath to keep the area clean and help with any discomfort.
If you experience any swelling or bleeding, don’t worry, this may be expected in the first few days. If there is anything more than a small amount of bleeding, apply some pressure with a clean cloth until the bleeding has stopped.
You should probably take a rest day for the first 24 hrs and can usually resume normal activity a day or 2 after that. Physical exercise and strenuous activity are not advised right away. Gauge how you feel and err on the side of the caution if you are still feeling discomfort.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions for care based on the method of removal they used. A follow-up visit is usually not required.
Preventing Anal Skin Tags
One of the best ways to try to prevent anal skin tags is to prevent developing hemorrhoids. A few tips to do that include:
– Eating a fresh, high fiber diet and maintaining a healthy weight.
– Drink plenty of water to minimize the chance of constipation
– Avoid sitting on the toilet for too long
– Try not to push hard when having a bowel movement