What Is a Perianal Skin Tag?

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on September 20, 2023
3 min read

As the name suggests, perianal skin tags are soft growths that occur around the anus. They are quite common and don't cause harm. They may happen after hemorrhoids heal or cleaning that area too hard.

Skin tags occur naturally as you age. They are mostly found in areas where there are skin folds, like the groin and armpits. Skin tags are noncancerous growths, but they may be sensitive.

Experts aren’t sure why skin tags occur. They’ve been linked to several conditions, such as diabetes (or insulin resistance), obesity, and skin irritation from friction.

Perianal skin tags can happen to anyone, regardless of age and gender. Conditions like Crohn's disease, obesity, pregnancy, and other bowel issues may put you at a higher risk of getting them. And family history may make you more likely, too. That’s because they’re hereditary.

Perianal skin tags mainly occur after the healing of anal fissures and thrombosed external hemorrhoids. Excessive rubbing and cleaning are known ways to worsen anal skin tags.

Perianal skin tags also occur due to:

When a perianal skin tag develops, you may begin to feel a piece of skin around the anus. This type of skin tag causes no pain in most situations. However, you may get a little uncomfortable due to the excess skin. Perianal skin tags don't cause bleeding and pain.

You can easily mistake a hemorrhoid due to their similar symptoms. Hemorrhoids, also called “piles,” occur when the veins around the anus swell and become distended.

‌The difference between hemorrhoids and perianal skin tags is that hemorrhoids are painful. Perianal skin tags, in most circumstances, don’t bleed, while hemorrhoids bleed when even mildly irritated.

Perianal skin tags should also not be confused with warts. Warts are associated with human papilloma virus, and have a whitish, reddish, or grey-brown color. They only grow to a size of a few centimeters. Warts cause burning itchiness and may bleed a little when touched.

Your doctor will ask you to lie on your side to look at the anus. to examine skin tags. They may look for signs of irritated skin, hemorrhoids, tender red areas, fistula (an abscess), or contact dermatitis. They may also inspect inside your anus using their finger and a proctoscope.

Your doctor may ask you:

  • The amount of time you spend on the toilet
  • The number of times you have a bowel movement daily
  • Whether you are experiencing other anal issues (like bleeding and pain)
  • Whether your stool is soft, hard, or watery 
  • What you use to clean your anus and how you do it
  • If you do other activities while using the toilet (like using your phone)
  • If you are taking any fiber supplements

The primary way to treat perianal skin tags is by managing the underlying condition causing the tags. Some conditions, like hemorrhoids and anal fissures, are known to cause them. To control the skin tags, you have to treat these conditions first.

Skin tags are removed through surgery. To keep the skin tags from recurring after the operation, you'll have to change any behaviors that are causing them ⁠— it may be as easy as taking more fiber. Consult with your doctor on the best ways to modify your lifestyle.

In the days following treatment, ensure that you keep good toilet and bowel habits. Don’t rub or clean your anus excessively.

A perianal skin tag can be uncomfortable, but they’re not harmful. If you begin to feel a mass in your anus, visit your doctor for a proper examination and clinical advice.