Do you have small protuberances on your body?
Most likely they are either warts or skin tags, and there are differences between both.
If you want to get rid of them, you should first identify which kind of skin condition you have.
We will review through all the details about skin tag vs wart, including a comparison table outlining their key differences.
You will learn what they are, what is causing them, what are the symptoms, skin tags and HPV warts location (including genital warts on female and male), how they can impact your health and if they can be contagious, treatment options, and skin tag vs wart comparison table.
Skin Tag vs Wart – Causes, Symptoms, Appearance.
According to NHS UK, skin tags are formed of fibers of collagen and blood vessels that surround your skin. They are small protuberances and abnormal formation that turns in the excessive skin, may be as big as 2” wide.
These skin lesions are soft flap of tissue that held on to the skin by a stalk. The colour of skin tags differs, as they can be same color of your skin, but there can be color variations. There are no previous symptoms, and when skin tags appear, they can grow fast.
Skin tags are closely related to age in which they tend to occur in older people. Additionally, hormone elevations during pregnancy, obesity, and type 2 diabetes are among other factors that may cause skin tag.
Dr. Benjamin Barankin of the Toronto Dermatology Centre elaborates more on skin tag in the brief video below, which also shows skin tag pictures.
Warts, on the other hand, are rough and irregular. Most warts have the shape of an oval, and their size can go as big as ½”.
Warts appear due to the HPV (Human PapillomaVirus). They grow slowly with no previous symptoms, with wart is an evidence of low-risk HPV’ presence whereby you can learn more in this HPV and warts guide.
The appearance of warts is not immediate after HPV infection. It may take several weeks or months before you notice the wart growing when keratin is produced in excess, creating the lump on top of your skin.
Most warts are isolated, but it is possible to find them in groups too. Most groups of warts appear due to the reinfection of oneself when people scratch or pinch their warts.
Watch the excellent video below from DNews that gives a lively overview on warts as the second most common skin problem we face, including images of different wart types, how and why do they form.
Skin Tags and Warts Location on Body
While skin tags can appear on any part of skin, they tend to appear where the skin rubs the most.
The most common location of skin tags on bodies are neck, armpits, axillae, groin, inner thigh, under breast, eyelids, buttocks, and genitals.
Warts commonly appear in the most exposed parts of the body, like hands and feet. However, any body part can be attacked by a wart outbreak, including genital area of male and female.
The characteristics and symptoms of warts depend on type of warts that are usually classified both by their location on the body and by their appearance.
For examples, as indicated by University of Michigan:
- Common wart appear most often on the hands and can be easily recognized by the rough, cauliflower-like appearance of the surface.
- Plantar wart located on the soles of the feet, sometimes on the toes and heel.
- Genital wart is located near or in the genital areas, and looks like flesh-colored or grey or off-white lumps with a grainy ‘cauliflower’ appearance.
Health Impact – Are They Dangerous and Contagious?
Skin tags are harmless, and you can leave them with no risk to your health.
However, while skin tags by themselves are not a health threat, they may be warning indicators that something may be wrong with your body, as these skin lesions may appear in early stages of obesity and before more serious illness like cardiovascular issues or diabetes appear.
For instance, as revealed by the American Academy of Dermatology, having numerous skin tags may be a sign that a person has type 2 diabetes or excessive insulin in the blood.
According to MedicineNet, skin tags are not contagious, but the HPV strains that cause skin warts are very contagious with wart virus can spread easily. As such, a sudden outbreak or cluster of growths is more likely to be warts.
Direct skin contact can pass the wart virus from on person to another, and indirect virus transmission may also occur by contacting with objects that have had contact with skin infected with HPV virus. The most common objects are shoes, socks, and towels – while the areas where you can get the HPV that causes warts include public pools and common changing areas and bathrooms that have moist environment as the preferred habitats for HPV, as revealed by ACFAOM (The American College of Foot & Ankle Orthopedics & Medicine).
Warts themselves do not pose danger to health and will usually go away on their own, as warts-causing HPV is cleared by the immune system in most cases.
Some people may worry that their genital warts will become cancerous, but having genital wart virus infection does not mean you will get cancer, because genital warts are caused by low risk HPV (e.g. HP-6 and HPV-11) that are not the same strains of high risk HPV, such as HPV-16 and HPV-18 that cause cervical cancer.
Check out these actionable tips to learn more on how to prevent warts (including genital warts).
HPV Wart vs Skin Tag Removal: Treatment Options
Most skin tags and warts may eventually fall naturally, however it is a slow process that will take some time, and there is no reassurance of it happening.
As such, people want to get rid of wart and skin tag as soon as they appear, because:
- Skin tag or wart can bring psychological impact like embarrassment and self-doubt, especially if these skin lesion develop on genitals or noticeable body area like hand or neck.
- Wart can affect the patient’s quality of life with discomfort such as itchiness and pain.
- Wart is highly contagious and and potentially spread to other parts of your body or to other people including those who are close to you.
#1: Topical Skin Tag or Wart Removal Solutions
Topical treatment that applies a cream on to the skin tag and wart is often the first treatment before the invasive surgical procedure, and it tends to work better on softer warts.
Check out the comprehensive review guides below to lean more on over the counter wart / skin-tag remover and make an educated decision:
- 1. Best skin tag cream and skin tag removal kit.
- 2. Over the counter wart removal solutions for non-genital warts.
- 3. Genital wart cream covering both doctor-prescribed and OTC options.
Skin tags and warts are removed using the same sort of procedures, with almost all the surgery options for warts can be applied on skin tags as well in order to remove them.
Most people consider invasive surgery as the last option because of scarring concern, and the expensive cost usually not covered by health insurance as surgical removal of wart and skin tag is generally considered cosmetic and not medically necessary.
The most common surgical removal procedures for wart and skin tag include:
- Cryotherapy that applies super-cold liquid nitrogen.
- Cuting out the wart with surgical scissors or scalpel.
- Laser with a concentrated beam of light to remove the skin growth.
- Burning off the skin tag or wart by using electric current that passes through a wire that becomes hot.
Differences Between Skin Tag vs Wart: Comparison Summary
Skin tags are often confused with HPV warts because of similarity in their look. However, both of these skin lesions have different causes, appearances, contagiousness and characteristics – despite they can appear on any body part and share similar treatment options.
Unlike skin tags that are non-contagious flesh-colored tissue hang off the skin, HPV warts are highly contagious skin growth that appear as rough cauliflower-like raised bumps.
The skin tag vs wart comparison table with pictures below should help you better distinguish their key differences, and how to tell if the skin growth is wart or skin tag.
|Cause||Age, pregnancy, obesity, diabetes, etc.||Human Papillomavirus (HPV)|
|Appearance||Smooth, soft, knobbly and hang off the skin.||Rough cauliflower-like surface, raised bump.|
|Flesh-colored or other color variations||White, pink, brown or flesh-colored|
|Usually painless but may become irritated if it is rubbed a lot||Usually painless but may cause intense itching|
|Contagious?||Not contagious||Highly contagious|
|Treatment Options||Topical cream, Surgical procedure.||Topical cream, Surgical procedure.|