Skin Tag vs Hemorrhoid – Differences

Note – it is important to differentiate skin tags from other lumps around the anus like hemorrhoids since these conditions require different medical treatment.

Anal Skin Tag

A skin tag, often known as perianal or rectal tag, is a small piece of soft, hanging skin which may have a peduncle. Skin tags can be observed in approximately 1 in 4 adults. Both sexes can get skin tags around the anus.

Other sites for skin tags include the following:

  • groin folds;
  • eyelids;
  • neck;
  • upper chest (especially beneath the breasts in women);
  • the underarms.

Anal skin tags are no different to skin tags which appear on other parts of the body, however, they are formed around the anus area, or where your outside skin meets the anal cavity.

Symptoms

Most anal skin tags are symptom-free. Individuals who have them only become aware of the skin tag when washing or when they wipe themselves after using the toilet.

Complications

If left untreated, anal skin tag can possibly lead to irritability, itching, and pain particularly when subjected to rubbing or friction.

Causes

It is not known precisely what causes skin tags, however, doctors think that it may happen when clusters of blood vessels and collagen (makes up 25 to 35 percent of all protein in humans) become trapped inside thicker pieces of skin.

Risk Factors

They are occasionally linked with other anorectal problems, including hemorrhoids. But, they are more prevalent in people who suffer from chronic bowel problems like Crohn’s disease or those who are obese.

Moreover, hormone elevations (like those seen during pregnancy) may cause an increase in the formation of skin tags. Additionally, some studies have concluded that certain hormone-related syndromes, such as metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovarian syndrome, may be related to skin tags.

Also, if you go through any rectal surgery, it may lead to the formation of anal skin tags while the healing takes place.

Treatment

Skin tags don’t usually cause symptoms other than their appearance. But, the larger the skin tag becomes, the more symptoms it may produce, including – a more intense rash, itching, feeling of heaviness, and swelling.

If symptoms occur, your doctor may recommend an in-office procedure where the skin tag is removed.

Hemorrhoids

Image credit – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hemorrhoids.png

They are swollen veins in the lowest part of the rectum and anus. Depending on their location, they usually result in unrelenting pain, itchiness, discomfort, and bleeding.

Problematic hemorrhoids tend to affect Caucasians more than African Americans and are more often seen in individuals between the age of 45 and 65. They also affect around 37 percent of women in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Also, an individual could have a single hemorrhoid, or more at the same time.

Types

There are two types:

  • external – this type of hemorrhoid is usually caused from pushing. They are therefore perfectly visible since they are located on the outside of the anal sphincter;
  • internal – interestingly, they may become external through exertion during bowel movements. But, they are are not perceptible from the outside as they are typically located above the anal sphincter.

Symptoms

Common symptoms may include:

  • leakage of fecal matter;
  • a feeling of poor hygiene;
  • a lump near your anus, that may be painful or sensitive;
  • swelling around your anus;
  • irritation or itching in your anal region;
  • painful or painless bleeding during bowel movements.

Causes

Hemorrhoids are most usually associated with bowel movement problems, including straining during bowel movement, diarrhea or chronic constipation, and sitting for a long time on the toilet.

Treatment

At-Home Treatments

There are several methods to treat hemorrhoids. Some of the common home remedies for hemorrhoids include:

  • trying to have a bowel movement when you get the urge rather than holding it;
  • spending less time on the toilet;
  • ensuring regular, soft bowel movements by adding foods rich in dietary fiber to your diet, eliminating foods which lead to constipation, exercising regularly, and drinking lots of fluids (preferably water and not sodas);
  • using ice packs to reduce swelling;
  • taking a warm tub or sitz bath a few times a day in warm water for approximately fifteen minutes.

Other treatment options include:

  • stapled hemorrhoidopexy – it is less painful than a traditional hemorrhoidectomy and allows quicker recovery, however, it is usually considered less effective. This surgical procedure involves the removal of enlarged hemorrhoidal tissue.
  • hemorrhoidectomy – both external and internal hemorrhoids can be removed by hemorrhoidectomy. This medical procedure requires a short recovery period and is performed under general anesthesia. It has a very small chance of recurrence.
  • rubber band ligation – this procedure is only for internal hemorrhoids. During this medical procedure, an elastic band is placed around hemorrhoids to stop blood flow. It is considered one of the most cost-effective treatments for internal hemorrhoids.

Prevention

Fiberbroccoli

Set a goal of at least 50 grams of dietary fiber per day, from rich fiber foods such as:

  • quinoa;
  • oatmeal;
  • oat bran;
  • carrots;
  • broccoli;
  • red kidney beans;
  • navy beans;
  • almonds;
  • cauliflower;
  • walnuts;
  • sunflower seeds;
  • pumpkin seeds;
  • strawberries;
  • blackberries;
  • turnips;
  • radishes;
  • beets;
  • mangoes;
  • papayas;
  • pineapples;
  • apples.

Alternatively, many individuals find that it is more convenient to take a dietary fiber powder like – Metamucil, MiraFiber, or Citrucel.

Image credit – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamiesrabbits/3972470581

Important note – add fiber to your diet gradually over a period of several days, to avoid excessive gas and bloating.

Avoid Straining

You can cause hemorrhoids if you push too hard while trying to have a bowel movement. To allow for easier passage of stools, elevate your feet a bit with a step stool as you sit on the toilet. Also, do not delay bowel movements during hemorrhoid flare-ups.

Bottom Line – Skin Tag vs Hemorrhoid

Anal skin tags are growths of excess skin which occur near the opening of the anus. These skin tags usually remain quite small, ranging from 1 to 2 cm, however, in some cases, they may grow larger.

Hemorrhoids are swollen tissue and veins located in the anal canal. Activities which exert pressure on the vein clusters in the lower rectum and anus are thought to cause the condition. Typical symptoms of both external and internal hemorrhoids include:

  • rectal pain;
  • itching;
  • bleeding during bowel movements.
References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18452201
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3677959
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5400927_Anal_skin_tags_in