Anal Skin Tag: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention

An anal skin tag is a benign skin protrusion located on the external portion of the anus. It can be easily mistaken for a hemorrhoid. however, it is generally not associated with any symptoms. In some cases it can cause itching or make it difficult to clean the area, risk for infections.

Treatment is not always necessary for anal skin tags, however very large tags can be removed with laser, surgery or cryotherapy.

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Common symptoms

Anal skin tags are characterized by a protrusion of skin that hangs on the outside of the anus. IT+t generally doesn't cause pain or have any associated symptoms. However, in some cases, it can cause itching and contribute to the accumulation of waste from feces, which becomes difficult to eliminate. This can cause inflammation or lead to infections more easily.

Possible causes

Anal skin tags is the result of a persistent inflammatory response in the anus which causes swelling in the area. When this inflammation has deflated, hanging skin is often left behind. Some of the causes that can lead to this inflammatory process are:

  • Having hard stools, which can damage the anus
  • Pregnancy
  • Anal fissures
  • Local irritations, such as mycoses, dermatitis and anal eczema
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Complicated healing from surgery in the anal region

Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease, that cause abnormal bowel routines (ie. alternating periods of constipation and diarrhea) can also lead to anal skin tags. 

Treatment options

Generally, no treatment is needed to remove anal skin tags, although many people want to remove this excess skin for aesthetic reasons only.

In some cases, the doctor may recommend surgical removal of the skin tag, particularly if it is very large, if there is an increased risk for infection, or when anal hygiene is complicated by the skin tag

An anal skin tag can also be removed with a laser or through cryotherapy, which involves the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the excess skin, which eventually falls off after a few days.

How to prevent

To prevent anal skin tags from appearing or stop one from increasing in size, you should avoid having hard, dry stools. This can be done by making changes to your diet or taking medication that softens the stools. In addition, you should avoid rubbing your anus with toilet paper and avoid very spicy foods, such as pepper, paprika, ready-made spices or sausage to prevent your stools from becoming too acidic.

Learn more about foods for constipation that can contribute to easier bowel movements.