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Sentinel piles. Are they actually piles at all?

Accurately diagnosing hemorrhoids is difficult, even for medical practitioners.

This is especially true of sentinel piles, because they are in fact not hemorrhoids at all. A sentinel pile is also known as a sentinel anal skin tag or rectal skin tag, and, for the more medically minded, may also be called a hypertrophied papilla or fibro-epithelial polyp.

Sentinel piles are common and usually harmless growths that hang off the skin around the outside of the anus at the front edge at the junction of the anus and the perineum. It is not contagious, but may be due to a lesion, inflammation, anal injury or skin left behind after a haemorrhoid treatment.

More generally, anal skin tags are not a risk to health, but they can cause issues with cleanliness after going to the toilet. This is mainly due to the fact that they can trap moisture and become irritated. Anal tags can be found around the anal periphery and may be single or multiple. The anterior one is called the sentinel tag.

Whilst they may be unsightly, they shouldn’t cause the same problems that are associated with suffering from internal and external hemorrhoids.

Are sentinel piles something I can just ignore?

The answer to the question is ‘probably’. Whilst that seems a little fudged as an answer, it’s really down to how you manage the skin tag and how you feel about it from a cosmetic point of view.

If you maintain a healthy diet, reducing the chance of constipation, and not being too rough when wiping the area, then all should be well.

Sentinel piles that have been put under undue pressure can be the cause of a small tear called an anal fissure. If you discover that an anal fissure has occurred, then a visit to the doctors would be advisable because anal fissures can become infected and be the cause of other complications.

How to get rid of a sentinel pile?

There are a number of procedures available ranging from surgical to non-surgical. It’s likely that the surgical option would be the most relevant with a small procedure to remove it under a local anaesthetic (some surgeons do prefer to do this under a general anaesthetic instead). eXroid do not treat anal tags in the eXroid clinics, but our specialists can facilitate this to be done via referral elsewhere, if appropriate.

Speak to one of our experienced advisors. All enquiries are handled with complete discretion.