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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).

Anal skin tags may also be called hypertrophied papillae or fibro epithelial polyps.

They are not contagious, but may be due to inflammation, a lesion, anal injury or skin left behind after treatment for a haemorrhoid.

Although anal skin tags are not a risk to health, they may cause problems in maintaining cleanliness after using the toilet. Skin tags may also trap moisture and cause irritation. They may also become irritated through contact (rubbing) with clothing or the movement associated with sitting.

Anal skin tags may be checked by a doctor to make sure they are harmless and not a malignant or cancerous growth.

It is possible to remove skin tags at home by tying a piece of dental floss or fine cotton around the base of the skin tag. This cuts off the blood supply to the skin tag causing it to drop off.

Anal skin tags can be removed by a GP through burning or freezing therapy. Occasionally they may need to be removed using a surgical procedure using a local anaesthetic. Treatment may not be available on the NHS as it may be seen as a low clinical priority and more of a cosmetic procedure.

Recovery should be quick after the procedure without much pain afterwards.

Hygiene is important afterwards because of where the tags were and the obvious risk of infection from faeces.

Aftercare may include the use of laxatives, painkillers and sitz baths to help soothe the area and give pain relief.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 10, 2014

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