What are Anal Skin Tags, and Should They be Removed?

An anal skin tag is an excess growth of skin around the anus. Anal skin tags are almost always benign and rarely cause pain. However, skin tags can cause discomfort and itching. They are usually small and may be your normal skin color (or slightly darker). If they do not bother you, most skin tags can be left alone. Often, patients prefer having them removed for cosmetic reasons and general annoyance.

What causes anal skin tags?

Genetics may be a factor, and there are other contributors, such as:

  • Friction or irritation from exercise, sitting for long periods of time, or tight clothing
  • Diarrhea/loose stools that cause irritation from too much acidity and over wiping
  • Constipation, pushing, and passing large stools that stretch the skin around the anus
  • Crohn’s disease—these patients are more susceptible to anal skin tags
  • Hemorrhoids that shrink and heal leaving stretched-out skin, or anal skin tags

Diagnosis is typically straight forward, especially if the anal skin tags are easily visible. If not, Dr. Perryman may use a thin instrument called an anoscope (a small lighted tube) to see just inside the anal opening. Most patients report little or no discomfort during this exam.

Removal is a viable option, and it is a relatively routine office procedure. As with any medical procedure, Dr. Perryman, board certified colon & rectal surgeon, will discuss risks and benefits beforehand.

Removal is relatively painless. A numbing solution is applied prior to excision. Recovery time is typically fast. Rest the day of the procedure with no heavy lifting. You should be able to resume normal activities within a week.

How do you prevent anal skin tags?

Prevention is not always possible as there could be a genetic component. Follow these helpful tips to reduce their appearance:

  • Keep your bowel habits regular by eating high fiber foods and drinking plenty of fluids
  • Wear breathable underwear
  • Avoid excessive wiping after using the restroom
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet, and exercise regularly—overweight people are more prone to skin tags



Call the office of Dr. Lisa A. Perryman, MD, FACS, FASCRS at (303)840-8822 to schedule an appointment, or go to www.ColoradoColon.com.

Sources include Healthline, Mayo Clinic, and Medical News Today.