People may not always be familiar with the term “skin tags” per se, however, the phenomenon is actually very common. In a nutshell, skin tags are essentially flaps of tissue that protrudes from the surface of the skin, and they are usually found around the eyelids, neck or the armpits and they come in various sizes. They are attached to the skin via a stalk.
Skin tags are also known as skin tabs or barnacles and these skin excesses are usually completely benign  and do not have a direct ill-effect on your health in any way. They tend to match your skin tone, however at times they may be a bit darker.
Skin tags may at times get inflamed, especially if they get ruptured because of continued friction with pieces of clothing, which may result in irritation. Sometimes they trap moisture, which may result in an infection as well!
Sometimes skin tags may occur on or around your anus or the rectal area, which is then known as an anal or a rectal skin tag. Anal skin tags are also known as hypertrophied papillae or fibro epithelial polyps.
An anal skin tag may at times occur right at the opening, or the perimeter of the anus. This is a special kind of anal skin tag, which is known in the medical community as a perianal skin tag. They are just like a regular skin tag, where it is completely harmless if nothing interferes with it, however it may get inflamed if it gets ruptured for any reason.
What Causes Anal Skin Tags?
When skin tags form in any other part of the body other than the anus, the occurrence seems to have a direct correlation with the rate of obesity and the person’s gender . In general, people who are overweight are more likely to be afflicted by skin tags and women are more prone towards developing skin tags, compared to men.
Anal skin tags are usually formed as a coping response to anal fissures or tears. There can be several ways by which small fissures or tears may be formed around the anus:
- Constipation: When you are constipated, your stool gets dehydrated and gets compressed, hence it becomes significantly harder. Thus passing the stool becomes a cumbersome, and at times even a painful process, causing undue stress on the anal cavity, resulting in fissures.
- Rectal Surgery: If you have had surgery in your rectum, then anal skin tags may form during the healing process.
- Childbirth: Sometimes anal fissures may occur if a woman has undergone a painful or complicated childbirth.
- Anal Intercourse: If people participate in anal sex without proper lubrication , then tears or fissures may appear. However, please note that as anal or rectal skin tags are not exactly a disease or an infection, it would be incorrect to categorize anal skin tags a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Treatment for Anal Skin Tags
If you believe that your anal skin tags needs to be treated, then the first step would be to seek the help of a qualified physician. This is because to the untrained eye, warts, hemorrhoids or even malignant or cancerous growth may be mistaken for anal skin tags! Once the doctor confirms that you are indeed suffering from anal or rectal skin tags she may then suggest one of the following procedures:
- Excision: As the name suggests, it is a minor surgery by which the skin tags will be individually cut off from the patient’s anus, while she is under local or general anesthesia. The doctor may administer an enema  about an hour and a half before the procedure.
- Laser treatment: As the name suggests, skin tags can be removed via laser treatment as well. However, they tend to be costlier than an excision procedure.
- Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy is another option, where the rectal skin tags are frozen off with the help of liquid nitrogen.
Please note that most health insurance policies consider all skin tag removal as a cosmetic procedure, hence they probably would not cover the cost. However, under exceptional cases a doctor may be able to provide adequate documentation that the removal of a skin tag is necessary for the patient’s well-being. However, such circumstances are incredibly rare and you should definitely speak to your doctor before contacting your insurance company.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Anal Skin Tags
Cosmetic procedures can be expensive and usually cannot be afforded by most people. That does not mean that you have to keep living with anal skin tags! There are a couple of home remedies that will allow for anal skin tag removal at home:
- Salt and Onion: There is anecdotal evidence that a combination of salt and onion can help get rid of anal skin tags. It is suggested that a person peels and chops a reasonable sized onion and puts it in a vessel filled with salt and allow the mixture to sit overnight. Extract the juice from this mixture the following morning and apply that on the anal skin tags (post the morning ablutions, of course). It is suggested that repeating this procedure for about 2 weeks will get rid of the anal skin tags.
- Pineapple Juice: Pineapple juice is purported to be a highly effective anal skin tag remover! Just apply pineapple juice to the afflicted area a few times during the course of the day. The anal skin tags should disappear within 10 days!
- Dental Floss: Another time-tested way to get rid of anal skin tags is to wrap a sturdy piece of thread, such as dental floss around the stalk of the skin tag. This will stop the flow of blood into and out of the skin tag, causing it to wither away in a few days. However, as it is almost impossible to get a good view of anal skin tags for the person suffering from it, this home remedy will probably require the help of a friend or a family member.
Please note that irrespective of which method you used to get rid of your rectal skin tags, maintaining proper hygiene is extremely important after you remove these polyps. This is because the bacteria in your feces may cause an infection!
Do Anal Skin Tags Cause any Health Complications?
The short answer is no, but a little more explanation is necessary. The skin tags around the anus are completely benign on their own; however, since they are flabby pieces of skin, they can easily be ruptured from passing a hard stool or via anal intercourse. Once these rectal skin tags are ruptured they can easily be infected (stool contains a wide variety of bacteria) which can lead to a wide variety of health complications.
How to Prevent Anal Skin Tags?
To prevent anal or rectal skin tags, you need to treat the conditions that cause the skin tags. A complicated childbirth is something that is usually out of the patient’s hands, however, the other common causes can easily be controlled, especially if the person makes some lifestyle changes.
Constipation is one of the major causes for anal fissures that results in the formation of anal skin tags. This is especially true if you consider that most of the rectal surgeries take place to treat advanced cases of hemorrhoids, which is usually caused by severe constipation. Staving off constipation is no state secret. You need to make sure that you are drinking plenty of water and incorporate an adequate amount of fiber in your diet.
Ingesting reasonable portions of fruits and green vegetables is a good way to increase your fiber intake. There are also a wide variety of breakfast cereals available that can help you bridge the gap. If this does not help resolve the symptoms of constipation, then you can try an over the counter laxative as well. If you are still constipated after taking these steps, then your constipation may be caused by a more severe underlying condition and you should seek the help of a qualified physician at your earliest convenience!
When it comes to preventing anal fissures from anal sex, one just needs to be a little more careful while engaging in this particular sexual activity. Make sure that you use an adequate amount of lubrication and it is extremely important to ease into the activity. If you face an unnatural amount of pain, then you should communicate that to your sexual partner right away. It is always a great idea to seek the advice of a qualified sex therapist before engaging in such activities.