Did you discover a small outgrowth of skin in your vaginal opening and feel extremely alert? It must have made you ask around your friends or relatives if this is normal. If you are in distress and found no proper answer whatsoever, don’t worry. Because this fear is not yours alone!
So, why do you actually have hymenal skin tags?
Well, hymenal skin tags usually are caused due to being overweight, suffering from diabetes or having insulin resistance. Friction could be another hidden issue which occurs from your undergarments, or tampon use. Even a painful fall, straddling activities like biking could result in this condition.
But this is not an issue of concern since they remain benign and disappear on their own without causing pain. To know more than this, read on to know all the plausible reasons and removal treatments that I provided. So, let’s proceed!
Table of Content
What Is a Hymenal Skin Tag?
Your hymen is a thin narrow membrane that covers your vaginal opening. Hymenal skin tags are benign fleshy outgrowths of extra tissue of the hymen skin, made up of loose collagen fibers. This protrudes out from the hymen edge, and stays behind after the hymen breaks down.
It can sometimes be uncomfortable since they appear in the sensitive vaginal area. But with early identification and proper treatment, you can get relieved of this external irritation.
Identification of Hymenal Skin Tags
Since hymenal skin tags are extremely small in size, it can get hard to detect them. We know these tags are situated at the vaginal entrance. If you find any extra skin remnants sticking off in this area, they could be identified as hymenal skin tags.
- Their raised appearance is similar to a deflated balloon growing on a stalk, known as a peduncle. Most of them are smaller than 2 millimeters and can extend as long as 10 millimeters as well.
- They are really soft and wrinkly, with an asymmetrical shape.
- These tags have many variations in their colour and shape. Some may be of the exact colour as your skin surrounding it, and some could appear darker due to hyperpigmentation. But if it gets twisted, there is a chance it may become black from less blood flowing.
Also, you must not confuse it with hymenal polyps. Hymenal polyps are formed on the hymen, whereas the tags are formed as outgrowths shooting off at the edge. But keep in mind that both have a similar morphology of a stalk-like growth.
Hymenal skin tags also have blood vessels within, and it can resemble a loose mole or wart.
Hymenal Skin Tag Symptoms
Hymenal skin tags are not associated with any additional symptoms, but some symptoms may include:
- Pain and slight irritation which can be caused by friction from underwears, sex or masturbation.
- Pain from being twisted eg. from the tag getting stuck in your clothes
- Pain from scraping it while shaving.
- Soreness from scratches
Sometimes with twisted hymenal tags, painful blood clots may develop. These tags usually form from your early 20s to the age of 70, though that is normally rare.
So, if your irritation prevails, the hymenal skin tag has chances of swelling up under your pants. Hence, these symptoms can indicate your tag is growing, and it is probably the best time to conduct a doctor for proper diagnosis.
Causes of Hymenal Skin Tags
Now that you know how to identify hymenal skin tags if you get one, it is also important to explore why you have it in the first place. When your hymen breaks, hymen remnants usually remain there and can cause such tissue outgrowths. Your hymen could break due to:
- Activities such as cycling or horse-riding
- Penetrative masturbation or sex
- Getting injured from falling hard on a surface or other sort of injuries
- Use of tampons and cramp development
Although it is not sure why these hymenal skin tags occur, researchers have established some reasons likely to cause them. Among them are:
Family History of Hymenal Skin Tags
“It’s in your genes” as the saying goes, applies for getting hymenal skin tags. So, if someone in your family had this condition before, it is more likely that you develop it later on.
Friction or Skin Chafing
When we wear regular clothes such as undergarments, friction is always developing from skin. This skin-to-clothing or skin-against skin friction can lead to hymenal skin tags, which doctors today also suggest. Such prolonged rubbing makes you develop rashes and burns as well.
Also, since hymenal tags usually grow in areas which are folded, dry or prone to a lot of friction, your vagina is the ideal place for their growth.
When you are obese, you you tend to have a high body mass index due to the large body size. So, this leads to more friction with skin, raising the chances of forming hymenal skin tags.
With pregnancy, your body changes and there is a burst of hormone release. If only it was as fun as movies show pregnancies to be. But, in real life, there is more to it. These bodily transformations and hormone changes cause friction with your clothes and skin.
Hence, this further elevates the chances of getting hymenal skin tags.
It was apparently found in a 2010 study that when women have several skin tags, they have more chances of being insulin resistant. Also, this insulin resistance indicated they have a high body mass index along with a high level of triglycerides and fats.
This sexually transissible disease caused by human paplloma virus or HPV usually causes genital warts, but it can also cause hymenal skin tags. In a study conducted in 2008, almost half of the 37 patients with these tags tested positive for the HPV DNA.
But this type of HPV is linked to a low risk version of the virus, instead of the virus responsible for cancer.
This is a rare hormonal condition where too much growth hormone is secreted from the pituitary gland. This causes certain bones and body tissues to rapidly grow. So, among these tissues include hymenal skin tags which are additional symptoms of this condition.
Aging and loss of elastic skin tissue
When your skin is as young as Madonna’s, it contains a storage of collagen and elastin proteins. These give your skin its stretching ability. But as you age, all these proteins diminish. With decreased ability to heal along with hormonal changes, your skin loses elasticity.
Hence, this loss in elastic skin tissues makes the skin hang very loose and become fragile. This is also indicative of hymenal skin tags which are also loose collagen fibers from your hymen remnants.
Diagnosis of Hymenal Skin Tags
As I mentioned before, consult a doctor once you identify such unusual hymenal skin tags. They will diagnose it while doing a physical examination done visually. You must reach out to your doctor if you notice:
- The hymenal skin tag is immobile and firm
- It changes its color or looks multicolored
- It composes of raw areas or if it’s bleeding
Also, they usually perform extra tests if they wish to be clear of where it originated from.
These tests could be:
- Pap smears
- Pelvic exam
- Biopsy to check growth
During the checkup, your doctor will note down your history. This could consist of your family history of hymenal skin tags. They’ll most probably ask you questions on your sexual activity. Lastly, you may be asked to undress since they will properly examine the skin tags.
So, the results from these can assist your doctor to confirm if it is actually hymenal skin tag or polyps. Even serious medical conditions can get diagnosed from it.
Also, these unusual tags resemble genital warts which can be infectious, and even cancerous. Hence doctors perform an HPV test if these warts appear around your genital area. They can even cause STD-like symptoms, so the sooner it is diagnosed, the better!
What Is the Necessary Treatment?
When hymenal skin tags are present from birth, they usually vanish and shrink without any sort of treatment. Tags appearing later on in your life may also vanish in the same way. They are almost often harmless and do not cause you any discomfort.
If it doesn’t irritate you, the doctors will mostly let it heal without treatment. It can automatically fall off without you realizing.
But if it swells or causes you irritation and pain during intercourse or tampon removal, you should tell your doctor you help you remove it. One thing to keep in mind- do not try removing it on your own at home. Pulling off the skin tags or cutting it will not remove it all completely.
Even a safe removal of hymenal skin tags can prove to be dangerous. This is because of how difficult it is to look inside the vagina. Also, as it is fully surrounded with sensitive tissues, it is very risky to just remove it.
This can lead to more severity in the area and cause bleeding or skin infections.
In the case of mild or uncommon hymenal skin tags, your doctor is most probably going to suggest home remedies. These include:
- Consuming over the counter medications and pain relievers.
- Applying some cold compress on the tag area
- Refraining strenuous physical activity till your symptoms alleviate.
But, in the case of persistent and severe hymenal skin tags, they may affect your way of living and its quality. Your doctor will use some valid treatment options to professionally remove these skin tags. These could be:
For this method, your doctor will use liquid nitrogen. This is added in order to freeze growth of the hymenal skin tags. So, while applying liquid nitrogen, a small blister could appear, but in rare cases, scarring could occur.
Excision Or Surgical Removal
Now, in this alternative procedure, instruments such as surgical scissors or scalpel for a precise removal. So, for this, a local anesthetic will be provided and this can sting or burn the tag for a while.
This procedure takes the help of an electric current that passes through wires. These wires burn off the hymenal skin tags accurately. One of the benefits of using this heating technique is that the high temperature can assist with limited bleeding in this area.
But, even cauterization can sometimes promote further risk of infection. They can lead to more tissue damage and allow a hospitable surrounding for bacteria to grow in.
Hence, you wisely measure the pros and cons and choose the best technique suited for you.
Hymenal Remnants Removal (Hymenectomy)
This is another procedure which requires excising or cutting the excess skin tissue. This is done using dissolvable sutures.
So, this can aid you greatly in easing your discomfort and improve the outer appearance of the tag.
What Can You Expect From Hymenal Skin Tag Removal
Hymenal skin tag removal is usually performed in the doctor’s office, specifically an OB-GYN doctor. The process takes around 15 to 30 minutes. But for hymenectomy, the time taken is usually 60 minutes. can be done at your doctor’s office.
Afterwards, you can leave and rest at home as these are outpatients procedures. But make sure to keep some items with you for this removal such as:
- comfortable leggings or sweatpants for regular wear at home.
- A pad or panty liner to soak and absorb any spotting.
- An over-the-counter or OTC medications or pain relievers
So, firstly your doctor will most possibly ask you to lay on your back with the knees up. Your heels should also be up in stirrups and they’ll conduct a pelvic exam.
Next, they’ll clean the examined area with cotton swabs and then inject you with a local anesthetic. For hymenectomy, oral sedatives are used as anesthetic.
Later on, the area has to be numbed with lidocaine or small needles. Then, sterile surgical tools like small scalpels are used to remove and cut off your hymenal skin tag.
Lastly, a chemical is applied to help stop bleeding if present, before sterilizing the area. ALso, this type of removal usually doesn’t require dressings or bandages.
Most of the time, you may not have to remove these tags. But if you want them removed for cosmetic reasons, you can definitely try it.
Further Recovery And Aftermath
Now, after you have completed the removal process, there could be some slight discomfort and spotting experience. But this will not halt your daily activities and you can resume your regular routine. But keep in mind some tips so that the tags do not appear again.
- Start wearing pads or panty liners to manage spotting if any. Also, take OTC pain relief medicines if you feel pain.
- Continue washing the area as you always did, unless said otherwise by your health professional.
- Use fragrance-free soaps and refrain from using hair removal creams. Also, rather than rubbing, slightly pat the area to keep it dry after washing.
- If advised and confirmed by your doctor, you can keep using tampons or have sex. But it is advised to stay away from intercourse in case of hymenectomy. Hence, consult it with your doctor to be more cautious.
Also, if you have further issues or queries, do not hesitate to call your doctor’s chamber while healing.
What could happen if you accidentally remove the hymenal skin tag?
If you pull off a skin tag on your own or by accident, there are chances of bleeding and swelling to form. This could further cause infections in the skin.
Can hymenal skin tags grow again after its removal?
No, not usually. But there is no guarantee that skin tags will be prevented from forming in the future. Hence, you should check the area with your doctor on a regular basis.
Also, if you form the tag in the same area again, you could be susceptible to growing them there.
Can my poor hygiene cause hymenal skin tags?
No, hygiene is not responsible for skin tags.
So, hope you gathered all your knowledge here, and it served your concerns. Most women do not even know if they have hymenal skin tags, which show how common it actually is.
Since they do not cause much harm, and fall off by themselves with time, it is best not to fret too much. Also, removing it is easy, pain-free and safe, so you can go ahead with it too.
Just tag away those skin tag worries and enjoy!