It is important that anal warts and skin tags are evaluated as soon as they are noticed. In fact, any abnormal growth warrants prompt evaluation.
Approximately 90 percent of cases of anal warts are caused by HPV. HPV is a virus that is most commonly acquired through sexual activity with a person who has the infection. These warts are typically seen inside the anus, but some might also be seen around the genital area.
- Initially, they might look like tiny spots and can be as small as the head of a pin.
- Over time, they can continue grow, and in some cases, they can cover the total anal area.
In most cases, the warts are not symptomatic. In fact, many patients are not aware that they are present unless they physically feel the growth. They are usually either flesh-colored or light brown. When they do cause symptoms, they may include:
- Mucus discharge
- Feeling of a lump
Visualizing the warts is generally enough to make a diagnosis. The doctor will examine the skin surrounding the anus and inspect the pelvic area. He might use an anoscope, which is a small lighted scope, to visualize the inside of the anal canal. This is done to see if there are any internal anal warts present. The warts can multiply and grow if they are not removed. For the warts on the outside of the anus, topical medications are often used, such as those that burn or freeze the warts.
Surgery might be needed to remove internal anal warts. Even after successful removal, it is possible for the warts to recur. Because of this, patients should adhere to all follow up care and immediately see their doctor if the warts recur to have them removed.
Anal Skin Tags
Anal skin tags are found on the outside of the anus and they look like small hanging growths. In most cases, they are harmless, but it is still important to have them evaluated to make sure they are skin tags and not something else. These might occur as a result of inflammation, anal injury, a lesion or as a side effect of certain hemorrhoid treatments. These growths are not contagious. They can be sensitive for some people, but in most cases, they do not cause pain. Itching is not uncommon.
A physical exam and a rectal exam are usually done to make a diagnosis. Doctors will want to ensure that it is a benign skin tag and not something more serious. The skin tags are usually removed. The area surrounding it is numbed and cleansed. The doctor then cuts it away usually a scalpel and stitches the area. In some cases, liquid nitrogen or a laser is used instead of surgery.