Condition: Anal Skin Tag

Anal skin tags, or rectal skin tags, are common and usually harmless growths that hang off the skin around the outside of the anus.

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What are
anal skin tags?

Anal skin tags, or rectal skin tags, are common and usually harmless growths that hang off the skin around the outside of the anus. They may be mistaken for warts or piles (haemorrhoids).

What causes
anal skin tags?

The skin around the anus stretches during bowel movements so stool can pass. This can be exacerbated with haemorrhoids, which cause the skin to stretch. When the haemorrhoid goes down, a tag of skin is left behind.

Tags are more common in patients in the following conditions

  • Straining from constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Heavy lifting
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Haemorrhoids

If you have Crohn’s disease or another inflammatory condition, skin tags can form due to inflammation.

What are the
symptoms of anal skin tags?

They may feel like small bumps or raised areas on the anus. Many patients will have more than one.

They rarely cause pain. However, skin tags can be uncomfortable and they may cause itching or soiling.

How are
anal skin tags diagnosed?

They are diagnosed by clinical examination. During this exam, you may be asked to remove your underwear and lie on your side. Your doctor may perform a visual exam and look at the anus for signs of a skin tag.

Occasionally they will need to feel inside the bottom with a finger or insert a plastic tube into the bottom called a proctoscope. If there is any doubt about the diagnosis, then they may recommend biopsy or removal.

How are
anal skin tags treated?

Skin tags may be managed with lifestyle changes. If you suffer from constipation you need to increase the amount of fibre in your diet and the amount of water you drink.

Avoid straining when you go to the toilet or spending too much time on the loo. When wiping your bottom, use a wet wipe which is non-perfumed, and avoid soap.

If they are very symptomatic or they cause significant cosmetic problems, they can be removed. This is usually done under general anaesthetic as a day surgery procedure. The surgeon will cut these away and inject local anaesthetic so it is numb after the surgery. These wounds are usually left open and you will need laxatives and painkillers after the procedure. These will typically heal within a few weeks.

Ms Sarah Mills, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at OneWelbeck Digestive Health gives an overview of anal skin tags, the common symptoms and how they can be treated.

Anal Skin Tag Specialists

We have brought together a group of leading colorectal and general surgeons and gastroenterologists to create our Digestive Health team. With over 300 years of combined experience, these expert clinicians are the best in their field and are all focused on delivering the very best patient care.