What Are Genital Skin Tags?

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Skin tags are relatively harmless, though they can cause pain, itching, and irritation. The non-cancerous skin growths usually develop in skin folds in places including the genitals. Genital skin tags can often be removed by a medical professional.

This article discusses genital skin tags, their symptoms, and causes. It also covers treatment options.

skin tag

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Genital Skin Tag Symptoms

Genital skin tags do not usually cause symptoms. When they do, symptoms can include:

  • Pain and irritation from rubbing on clothing
  • Soreness from being scratched
  • Bleeding from being scratched
  • Pain from being twisted

If a skin tag becomes twisted, it may develop a blood clot beneath it that can be painful.

Skin tags may develop as early as in your 20s. Most people stop getting new ones after age 70.

Recap

Genital skin tags are usually harmless. Some people have pain or irritation when skin tags rub on clothing.

Genital Skin Tags vs. Warts

It can be fairly simple to tell the difference between skin tags and warts.

Skin tags

  • Skin tags start out as a small, soft bump on the skin. They develop into an extended piece of skin. A skin tag is rooted to the skin’s surface by a thin stalk.
  • Skin tags are fast-growing. They average 2mm to 5mm in size. They can sometimes grow larger, up to a few centimeters.
  • Skin tags stop growing when they reach their maximum size. They don't tend to change over time.
  • Skin tags start as skin-colored. Later, they may change to a dark brown color.

Warts

  • Warts are usually skin-colored, brown, or pink.
  • They sit flush against your skin.
  • Warts are flat or bumpy.

Warts are not cancerous. They can signal an infection or virus, though, such as human papillomavirus (HPV).

HPV warts can crop up and disappear over time. They may reappear in another spot. Sometimes clusters of several warts will form which may look like cauliflower.

Recap

Skin tags look different than warts. Warts are generally flush against the skin. A skin tag is on a stalk. Any genital lesion should be seen by a doctor, though, to rule out HPV.

What Causes Genital Skin Tags?

Researchers are not sure what causes skin tags. They’re more likely to occur where the skin folds. Since your skin folds in your genital area, they can appear there.

Skin tags aren’t contagious. They can't be transmitted through sexual contact. Some conditions may increase your chances of getting skin tags, though. These include:

Recap

Skin tags often appear in areas of folded skin. People who are obese, pregnant, or have certain medical conditions may be more prone to getting them.

Diagnosis of Genital Skin Tags

See a doctor as soon as possible if you see anything out of the ordinary in your genital area. You need the right diagnosis before you can get the right treatment.

Skin tags usually grow in dry, folded areas surrounding the vagina and penis. They are often found where underwear or other clothing rubs against the skin.

Your doctor will talk to you about your medical history. You may be asked:

Note that you will need to get undressed so the doctor can examine your skin.

Skin Cancer or Skin Tag?

Some cancers can look similar to a skin tag. Healthcare providers can usually tell if your growth is a genital skin tag based on its appearance.

Speak to your doctor if you notice the skin tag:

  • Is firm and can’t be moved easily
  • Changes color or is multicolored
  • Contains any areas that are raw or bleeding

If your doctor can’t tell whether your skin growth is a skin tag, you may need a biopsy. During a biopsy, a small piece of the skin is removed and examined in a laboratory.

How Genital Skin Tags Are Treated

Skin tags on the genitals are benign, which means they are not cancerous. If you want them removed due to appearance or discomfort, it’s best left to a professional.

At-home treatment or removal of skin tags in the genital area is risky. This is because the skin is so sensitive. At-home removal could cause infection, pain, and scarring.

A medical professional can remove your skin tags with one of these options:

  • Cryosurgery uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the growth. A small blister might form where the nitrogen was applied. Scarring is rare.
  • Excision uses a scalpel or surgical scissors for removal. You will receive a local anesthetic for this procedure. It may burn or sting for a moment. 
  • Cauterization uses an electric current passing through a wire. This burns off the skin tag at the stem. The heat of the wire helps limit bleeding.

All three of these options are outpatient procedures. This means you can have them done in a medical office and leave afterward. You may be able to get multiple skin tags removed at once. Ask your healthcare provider about this in advance.

Does Insurance Cover Skin Tag Removal?

Insurance rarely covers the removal of skin tags. This is because they are considered a cosmetic issue and not a health risk.

Prognosis for Genital Skin Tags

Skin tags aren't something you need to medically worry about. If you do get them removed, keep in mind that you may still get more in the future. Always make sure to have a doctor check any changes to your skin in the genital area.

Summary

Genital skin tags are harmless growths that appear in the genital area. They usually don't cause symptoms.

Researchers don't know what causes skin tags. Some people are more prone to getting them, including people who are obese, pregnant, or have a family history of skin tags.

You don't usually need to have skin tags removed. If they bother you, a doctor can use cryosurgery, excision, or cauterization to remove them.

A Word From Verywell

Any skin growth can cause concern, and genital skin growths may be embarrassing, too. If you are concerned about potential infections, they can also cause anxiety.

Genital skin tags are relatively harmless, though. If they bother you, you can have them removed by a professional.

Skin tags aren’t contagious or sexually transmitted. Still, it is always worth having any changes to your skin in your genital area checked.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Skin tags

  2. National Cancer Institute. HPV and cancer.

  3. Winchester Hospital. Acrochordons.

  4. Harvard Health Publishing. Skin tags (acrochordon).

  5. University of Michigan. Removing moles and skin tags.

By Rachel Macpherson
Rachel MacPherson is a health writer, certified personal trainer, and exercise nutrition coach based in Montreal.