Anal skin tags appear as small lumps or flaps of skin, found at the opening of the anus. They take on a flattened appearance and do not protrude from nor originate from the interior of the anus. They are common and non-dangerous.
They can form as the result of a lesion, an external hemorrhoid that has fully contracted, trauma to the anorectal region or an inflamed lesion in the area. Essentially, they are skin folds left over from a previously swollen area as might be found in external hemorrhoids that have healed or from the same situation involving a healed lesion. Trauma to the anal verge in the form of a cut can also result in skin tags when the wound heals and forms excess skin.
Typically, skin tags offer no pain nor symptoms other than their presence and nuisance when it comes to maintaining anal hygiene. However, if a skin tag presents with pain, it could be a symptom of an underlying infection involving an anal gland, also known as an anal abscess. If presented with pain, especially pain that is quickly escalating, immediate medical attention should be sought. If an infection is present, it could quickly become life threatening.
Because of their appearance, they might be misidentified as an external hemorrhoid. Internal hemorrhoids that prolapse or extend, do so from the interior of the anal canal, whereas skin tags originate on the anal verge, outside the anus.
Although they are not dangerous, they can be surgically removed. Additionally, over the counter products exist to treat, reduce and eliminate the tags.
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