wellness·3 min read

Yes, Genital Skin Tags Exist — Here's What You Need to Know

Woman With Hands on Stomach
Design: theSkimm | Credit: Pexels
Aug 10, 2022

You might have noticed something new down there. It’s not an ingrown hair, and it’s not quite a pimple. It might be something entirely different: a vaginal skin tag. Here’s how to identify genital skin tags, what causes them, and what to do about them. 

What are vaginal skin tags? 

Skin tags are soft and small skin growths. About half the size of a pencil eraser. They’re made up of loose fibers of collagen (the protein that helps make up skin) and can contain blood vessels. They usually grow on a “stalk” (or peduncle), so they may be raised on the skin. They can resemble warts, moles, or a piece of hanging skin. And can be flesh-colored, but have the potential to be darker than the surrounding skin. 

Vaginal skin tags can appear near the vagina or around the vulva. And usually, they’re harmless. But depending on where your skin tag is, it could get caught in (or irritated by) your clothing or chafe when you’re active. Which can lead to discomfort — or even infection. 

What causes genital skin tags? 

There are a few reasons: 

  • Friction: When the skin rubs against something, like other parts of the skin or clothing.

  • Hormonal changes: Particularly during pregnancy when your estrogen levels rise to help support the developing fetus. This can potentially increase your chances of developing skin tags. 

  • Family history: So ask a female relative if they've ever experienced this, too. 

  • HPV: This STD can cause genital skin tags as well as genital warts, which can make it confusing to figure out which one you’re dealing with. 

How can I tell the difference between a genital skin tag and an STD?

Genital warts are typically caused by the HPV virus. Which is the most common STD in the country. And is typically spread through anal, oral, or vaginal sex with someone who has the virus. 

The growth you’re seeing might be a genital wart (or other STD) as opposed to a vaginal skin tag if: 

  • The growth is round and flat

  • There are multiple skin growths in clusters

  • You’re experiencing bleeding, pain, or itching in the area

  • It’s located in or around the anus or vagina

Visit your medical provider to confirm if you have vaginal skin tags, HPV, or another condition. Because some strains of HPV are linked to cervical and throat cancers. 

What if I want to get my skin tags removed?

In some cases, the skin tag can fall off on its own.

But if you want to have your skin tags removed, talk to your doctor about your options, which include: 

  • Surgical removal: Cutting the skin tags off with a scalpel or other sharp tool

  • Ligation: Cutting off blood flow to the skin tags with surgical thread

  • Cryotherapy: Freezing the skin tags off with liquid nitrogen

  • Cauterization: Burning off the skin tags and sealing their blood vessel supply 

Important note: It might feel tempting, but don’t try to remove the skin tag by yourself. That could increase your risk of infection or other issues like inflammation. 

theSkimm 

Vaginal skin tags aren’t usually a cause for concern. But talk to your medical provider to confirm it’s a skin tag and not another type of growth. And if you want to have it removed, there are plenty of options to consider. 

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