Vaginal Skin Tags

Vaginal skin tags are tiny, noncancerous growths that appear on your genitals (vulva). It’s possible to confuse them with genital warts, which also appear on your genitals. Unlike warts, vaginal skin tags aren’t contagious or signs of an STI. If they make you self-conscious or negatively impact your sex life, your provider can remove them.


Magnified view of two vaginal skin tags of roughly the same size
Vaginal skin tags are loose, fleshy growths that form on your vulva.

What are vaginal skin tags?

Vaginal skin tags are small, fleshy growths on your genitals or vulva. They may grow on your labia (inner and outer vaginal lips), near your vaginal opening and anus or in your inner thigh area (groin). They only grow where there’s skin, so even though they’re called vaginal skin tags, they don’t actually grow inside your vagina.

Like skin tags that appear on other parts of your body, genital skin tags are benign (noncancerous). Most of us would prefer they weren’t there, but you shouldn’t worry if you have them.

How common are vaginal skin tags?

Vaginal skin tags are rarer than skin tags that appear in other places — like your neck and armpit — but skin tags, in general, are common. About half of adults will get a skin tag at some point, and the chances you’ll get one (or more) increase as you age. You may start getting skin tags as early as in your teens. At around age 70, new ones usually stop forming.


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Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of a vaginal skin tag?

Skin tags don’t usually cause symptoms, so their location and appearance are the best way to identify them.

You’ll usually find them in skin folds, places on your body where there’s skin-to-skin contact. Think of the tiny area of skin where the upper part of your inner thigh comes into contact with your vulva or the space where your breasts touch your stomach. These skin folds and others like them are common sites for skin tags.

Skin tags look and feel like loose growths of excess skin. They’re connected to your surrounding skin via a small fleshy stalk, which makes them raised instead of flat. They’re sometimes compared to grains of rice or deflated balloons. Vaginal skin tags are:

  • Soft and smooth.
  • Loose and moveable.
  • Skin-colored, or slightly lighter or darker than your surrounding skin.
  • Small, ranging from 1 to 5 millimeters (mm) on average. Although it’s rare, vaginal skin tags can be several centimeters large.

How do I know if I have a wart or a skin tag?

It’s easy to confuse a vaginal skin tag for genital warts because they’re both unwelcome growths on your vulva. While skin tags are harmless growths that aren’t contagious, genital warts are a highly contagious sexually transmitted infection (STI). They’re most commonly transmitted through intercourse, anal and oral sex. Genital warts are caused by what are considered low-risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), the ones that don’t cause cancer.

Genital warts and skin tags have important differences that can help you tell them apart.

Skin tags
Are raised on your skin.
Genital warts
Lie flat on your skin.
Feel smooth.
Genital warts
Feel rough or bumpy (cauliflower-like).
Grow alone (multiple skin tags may appear in an area, but they’re not bunched together.)
Genital warts
Grow in clusters.
Don’t cause symptoms unless they’re damaged.
Genital warts
May cause itching, irritation, a burning sensation or bleeding.

If you’re unsure if a growth is a skin tag or a wart, schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider. Getting an accurate diagnosis is important for your health, and it’s important for the health of your sexual partner(s), too. If you have genital warts, you’ll need to take extra precautions during sex to prevent spreading the infection to your partner(s).

What causes vaginal skin tags?

Vaginal skin tags appear when your body produces extra cells in the top layer of your skin. There’s no single reason this happens, but friction likely plays a role. Skin tags typically appear in skin folds, where there’s skin-to-skin contact. Friction between skin and clothing, like the skin on your vulva and your underwear, may cause them, too.

Certain factors make you more likely to get them:

  • Pregnancy: Skin tags commonly appear during pregnancy, especially in the second trimester (week 14 to week 27). Hormone changes may spur the growth of new skin cells. Another theory is that the additional pregnancy weight increases skin-to-skin contact, leading to more skin tags.
  • HPV infection: Some studies suggest that low-risk HPV may play a role in forming some skin tags. Other studies have shown that there’s no connection between the two. More evidence is needed to understand if there’s any relationship between HPV and skin tags.
  • Insulin resistance and diabetes: Studies have shown that people with insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes are more likely to have skin tags.
  • Having a heavier body: You’re more likely to have skin tags if you have a BMI greater than 25 (have overweight/obesity).
  • Genetics: Skin tags run in families.
  • Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome. Having a skin condition like Birt-Hogg-Dubé increases your risk of getting noncancerous growths, including skin tags.

Is it contagious?

No. Skin tags aren’t caused by viruses, bacteria or other organisms that spread infection.


Diagnosis and Tests

How are vaginal skin tags diagnosed?

A healthcare provider will usually diagnose skin tags following a brief physical exam. If there’s any uncertainty, they may do a pelvic exam, biopsy or HPV test to rule out other conditions that cause growths on your vulva.

Management and Treatment

How are vaginal skin tags treated?

Since vaginal skin tags are harmless, they usually don’t require treatment. Some tags fall off on their own.

If your skin tags make you self-conscious, your provider can help you get rid of them. Procedures include:

  • Cauterization: Uses electricity to burn the tag.
  • Surgery: Uses a sharp instrument, like a scalpel, to remove the tag.
  • Ligation: Uses surgical thread to restrict the blood supply to the tag.
  • Cryotherapy: Uses extremely cold gas (liquid nitrogen) to freeze the tag.

Seeking treatment from a healthcare provider is important. Removing them yourself or using over-the-counter treatments can lead to infection and bleeding. DIY treatments can damage the delicate skin on your vulva.

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How can I prevent vaginal skin tags?

You can’t prevent skin tags, but you shouldn’t worry if you have them. They’re harmless. Your provider can remove them if they’re making you self-conscious.

You can reduce your risk of damaging a vaginal skin tag by being mindful of them when you:

  • Insert a tampon.
  • Shave your pubic area.
  • Wipe after going to the bathroom.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have this condition?

Some tags go away on their own, but many stay. If they’re embarrassing, your provider can remove them. Although they don’t usually recur, skin tags are common enough that new ones may appear in the future.

Living With

When should I be worried about a skin tag?

Schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider if you’re unsure if you have a skin tag or another condition, like genital warts. If you’re sure you have a skin tag, contact your provider if it:

  • Begins growing rapidly or changing color.
  • Causes symptoms like itching or burning.
  • Is bleeding, has become swollen or is showing other signs of injury.

Additional Common Questions

Why do I suddenly have skin tags?

Skin tags become more common as you age. They’re not a sign of disease, and they don’t mean that you’ve neglected your health in any way.

What is a hymenal tag?

Hymenal tags are excess tissue that extend off your hymen. Your hymen is a stretchy membrane that’s located at your vaginal opening. Hymenal tags are often present at birth and shrink or disappear as you age. They’re benign and usually don’t cause issues. If you have a hymenal tag that gets irritated when you go to the bathroom and wipe or when you use tampons, a healthcare provider can remove it.

Are skin tags from HPV?

No. More research is needed to know if there’s a relationship between HPV and the formation of some skin tags. Either way, HPV doesn’t cause skin tags. Even people without HPV get them.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Finding any growth on your private parts can be frustrating, embarrassing and scary. But many people get skin tags, including skin tags on their vulvas. Speak to a healthcare provider to confirm that your new growth is a skin tag. Rest assured that if it is, it’s harmless. Many people with vaginal skin tags have healthy sex lives, free of embarrassment. If it’s causing you stress, your provider can remove it.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/25/2022.

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