While anal skin tags are extremely common, they’re very rarely cause for alarm. These non-cancerous, benign small bumps or raised areas around the anus are essentially excess skin growths that develop for various reasons. They’re usually sensitive to the touch and can be quite itchy, but aren’t usually painful. While some individuals seem to be genetically prone to developing skin tags, a variety of causes ranging from skin friction to hemorrhoids may be linked to skin tag formation.
Who gets anal skin tags?
Anal skin tags can affect anyone, but they’re much more prevalent in obese individuals and individuals who suffer from chronic bowel problems, especially Crohn’s disease. Additionally, pregnant women tend to develop skin tags more easily due to hormone fluctuations and increased skin friction around the anal region. Those who suffer from hemorrhoids or inflamed lesions and anal injury are also at a higher risk of having anal skin tags.
How do anal skin tags develop?
Although the exact causes of skin tags are unclear, they usually result from one or more of the following:
Hemorrhoids – When swollen hemorrhoids begin to shrink and eventually heal, excess skin may remain and form into a skin tag.
Diarrhea – Also related to friction, having recurrent bowel movements can irritate the skin around the anus, especially if combined with excess wiping.
Constipation – Too many bowel movements can lead to skin tags, as can too few bowel movements. When you overstrain, the anal blood vessels can swell and bulge; skin near the anus must also stretch to accommodate large or hard stools. Skin tags form when the skin fails to snap back to its original position.
Friction/irritation – Increased friction between surfaces of the skin, such as from exercising or prolonged sitting, can lead to anal skin tags.
Crohn’s disease – Sufferers of this chronic bowel disorder experience inflamed intestines and bouts of diarrhea and constipation, all of which contribute to a higher risk of skin tags.
How can I prevent anal skin tags from forming?
Decrease the chances of constipation and diarrhea by eating plenty of fiber and keeping your bowel movements regular.
Do not excessively wipe after a bowel movement to avoid excess friction and irritation.
Do not wear overly tight underwear, which can cause skin irritation and unnecessary friction while moving or sitting.
Aim for a healthy body weight and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Overweight and obese individuals are more prone to developing skin tags, so eating a balanced diet and regularly exercising can significantly lower your risk.