What’s the Difference between Hemorrhoids and Skin Tags?

Experiencing a growth of any kind, especially around the anus, can sometimes be a cause for concern. After all, most of us aren’t used to skin growths in that area, and noticing one, or more, can come as somewhat of a shock. However, the most important thing you can do if you discover a growth in that area is to determine what it is, and that can be determined by understanding the difference between hemorrhoids and skin tags.

The differences are easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for, but they are also caused by different issues. Treatment is also different for each medical problem. Let’s take a closer look at how to recognize whether you have hemorrhoids or an anal skin tag.

What’s the Difference between Hemorrhoids and Skin Tags?

Aside from how they are created and formed, there are several notable differences between hemorrhoids and skin tags to look out for. The first, and most obvious, is their overall appearance.

Skin tags will appear as small flaps or folds of skin, and they will either be the same color as the rest of your skin or have a light brown tone. They are usually smooth, and won’t get bigger than a fingernail, or ‘rounder’ than a grape. Skin tags are not harmful in any way and are not painful. While they do not simply go away, or fall off on their own, treatment options are painless.

Hemorrhoids show up as larger ‘lumps’ near the anus, instead of flaps or folds, and instead of being the color of flesh, they are often dark blue, or even ‘purple’ looking because of the blood trapped within the strained veins. When comparing the overall look against skin tags, there are no real similarities between the two.

Hemorrhoids can also be extremely painful, where skin tags are not. Hemorrhoids can bleed (even internal hemorrhoids), and itch, where skin tags typically don’t cause any kind of irritation unless you choose to scratch at them, attempt to pick them off yourself, etc.

What Causes Skin Tags?

Skin tags are more common than most people realize, and there’s a good chance that you will experience at least one skin tag in your life. Though there is no direct answer when it comes to what officially causes skin tags, many scientists agree that they are likely caused by the friction of skin rubbing together.

This is why skin tags typically appear on areas where the skin does just that; around the neck, armpits, etc. Anal skin tags are no different when it comes to formation, and they will appear as a sort of limp fold of skin that sticks out from the body, usually extremely small in size. Most skin tags never get bigger than a fingernail, at most.

What Causes Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, unlike skin tags, are not something everyone will likely experience in their lifetime, and they are caused by completely different circumstances. Hemorrhoids are actually nothing more than swollen veins that are in the canal of the anus. Some people can experience internal hemorrhoids, but they are obviously more noticeable when they are external.

They are caused by increased pressure against those veins or straining during bowel movements. Damage to the anus itself can also cause hemorrhoids, so it’s important to take into account any actions you might have gone through if you think there’s a chance you could have them.

Best Treatment for Hemorrhoids And Skin Tags

When it comes to skin tags, treatment isn’t really necessary from a health/medical point of view, but from a cosmetic standpoint, some people would rather have their skin tags removed, especially if they have several in an apparent spot. If you have skin tags on the anus, it’s completely up to you whether you’d like to remove them or not.

Over-the-Counter Treatment Methods

Again, skin tags won’t simply ‘go away’ on their own, and while they’re not harmful, choosing to have them removed is a fairly simple process. Skin tags will fall off once the flow of oxygen and blood is cut off. There are several home remedies for this, including tying skin tags off with a piece of string or dental floss. However, in a sensitive area like the anus, this might prove to be difficult to do yourself.

Safe Removal by a Doctor

Seeing a doctor for the removal of skin tags will usually result in one of three treatment options: The doctor will surgically cut off the tags, they will burn them off with a laser, or they will freeze them and remove them. All three processes are fairly common nowadays, are not invasive, and have practically no recovery time.

What's the Difference between Hemorrhoids and Skin Tags?

Treatment for hemorrhoids is a little different. There are creams and topical ointments on the market that can reduce the symptoms and pain that goes along with hemorrhoids, but actually getting them removed is something that needs to be done by a medical professional. Some doctors may suggest something as simple as a change in diet, while others will suggest more immediate solutions.

These treatment options can include everything from an injection to block off blood flow to the hemorrhoids to putting a band around them, which also removes the blood supply. Some hemorrhoids are even surgically removed, which is probably the most invasive option, but necessary for larger, more painful hemorrhoids.

While skin tags don’t return for any particular reason, hemorrhoids can be a lifelong issue for some people, especially if you don’t change things like your diet, and make other lifestyle changes to provide a more gentle environment around the anus.

It may not cross your mind to understand the difference between hemorrhoids and skin tags, but knowing the signs of each can be important, especially when it comes to treatment options, and getting the help you may need, depending on the issue.