Warts and Skin Tags

What are warts and skin tags?

Warts and skin tags are both common skin conditions that are generally harmless.

Warts are small, rough growths caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and can appear on various parts of the body.


Skin tags are soft, fleshy growths that typically hang off the side of the skin by a thin stalk. They are composed of collagen fibres and blood vessels. Skin tags usually occur in areas where the skin rubs against itself or clothing, such as your neck, underarms, or groin.

skin tags

What causes warts and skin tags?

Warts are caused by a viral infection due to the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are various strains of HPV that can cause different types of warts, such as common warts, plantar warts, and genital warts. HPV enters the body through small cuts or breaks in your skin and thrives in warm and moist environments. You can come into contact with the virus by touching an infected surface or through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.

Skin tags occur due to friction or rubbing of your skin against another part of your skin or clothing. They tend to develop in areas where there is skin-to-skin contact, such as your neck, underarms, or groin. Other factors that may contribute to the formation of skin tags include hormonal changes, obesity, and genetic predisposition.

What are the symptoms of warts and skin tags?

 Symptoms of warts include:

  • Small, rough, or raised bumps on your skin
  • Flesh-coloured, white, or pinkish in appearance
  • Irregular or cauliflower-like texture
  • May occur singly or in clusters
  • Commonly found on hands, fingers, feet, and genital areas
  • Some warts may cause itching or discomfort
warts hand

Symptoms of skin tags include:

  • Small, soft, and fleshy growths on your skin
  • Usually the same colour as the surrounding skin
  • Can be smooth or slightly wrinkled
  • Often found in areas with friction
  • Generally painless, but may become irritated if rubbed or snagged by clothing or jewellery
  • Some skin tags may have a stalk-like structure attaching them to the skin surface
skin tags

If you have any of the symptoms stated above, make an appointment with us for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

Are warts and skin tags painful?

Warts are generally not painful unless they grow in areas that are frequently rubbed or irritated, such as the soles of your feet. In this case, they can cause discomfort and/or pain.

Skin tags are typically painless. However, if a skin tag becomes twisted or irritated, it may cause some discomfort.

Who is at risk of warts and skin tags in Singapore?

Anyone can develop warts and skin tags, but certain factors may increase the risk. 

In Singapore, common risk factors for warts include:

  • Close contact with an infected person
  • Weakened immune system
  • Repeated skin-to-skin contact

 The risk factors for skin tags are not as well-defined; some factors that may contribute to their development include age (more common in middle-aged and older individuals), obesity, and hormonal changes during pregnancy.

What are the treatment options for warts and skin tags?

 For the treatment of viral warts, a common approach involves the use of liquid nitrogen, either with or without cantharidine. Liquid nitrogen is a very cold substance that is applied directly to the wart to freeze and destroy the affected tissue. This process is known as cryotherapy and helps to eliminate the wart. When using liquid nitrogen, it can cause a slight stinging sensation and immediate redness and swelling, but these usually resolve within a few hours. After the liquid nitrogen application, cantharidine may be applied to the wart to help stimulate an inflammatory response.

 During the treatment of skin tags, a topical local anaesthetic will be applied to the affected area and left on for 30 to 60 minutes to numb the skin. The skin tags will then be removed using a technique called shave excision with electrocautery. This involves carefully shaving off the growth using an electrically heated instrument to cauterise the base and minimise bleeding. After the procedure, a scab will form over the treated area for a period of 1 to 2 weeks before falling off and fully healing.


Why am I getting warts and skin tags?

You may be getting skin tags because they tend to develop in areas where there is friction between the skin. And if you have been exposed to HPV, you may get symptoms such as warts.

How do I know if it is a wart or a skin tag?

You can distinguish skin tags from warts by their characteristics. Skin tags are smooth and raised from a thin stalk, while warts have a rough and irregular surface.

Can I cut off a skin tag?

If you want to remove a skin tag, it is important to consult your dermatologist, cutting or clipping it yourself can lead to an infection. Make an appointment with your dermatologist for help with treatment.


What does a contact allergy look like?
Skin rashes, hives, itchiness, redness, burning, swelling, and tenderness could be symptoms of a contact allergy, especially after coming into contact with a particular substance.
How do you relieve contact allergies?
Applying anti-itch creams and taking anti-itch medications, cold compresses, cool baths, and avoiding the particular substance that causes the allergy can all provide relief for contact allergies.
How long does it take to treat contact allergies?
Upon avoiding the contact allergen, symptoms typically clear up in 2-4 weeks. However, it depends on the individual and treatment plan.
Are contact allergies contagious?
No, contact allergies are not contagious and will not spread to other people.



Dr Uma Alagappan is a MOH accredited consultant dermatologist in private with more than 15 years experience as a medical doctor. She sub-specialises in paediatric dermatology, women’s dermatology and general dermatology. Dr Uma’s interests include chronic eczema, food allergy and immunodermatology. She is also well versed with the use of lasers for treating paediatric and adult patients.
Dr Uma completed her dermatology training in Changi General Hospital and National Skin Centre in 2015. She joined KKH Dermatology Service to subspecialize in paediatric dermatology in 2017. She was awarded the Ministry of Health Manpower Development Plan Award in 2019 to pursue paediatric immunodermatology and allergo-dermatology in the renowned Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts, USA. Upon her return, she spearheaded a number of clinics at KKH including the food allergy eczema clinic for the paediatric eczema patients, immunodermatology clinics and the psychology eczema multi-disciplinary clinics.
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Tel: +65 9023 0905

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Fax: +65 6592 1411

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321 Joo Chiat Pl, #05-01A Parkway East Specialist Hospital, Singapore 427990

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Tel: +65 6320 0310

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290 Orchard Road 09-01/02 Paragon Medical Centre, Singapore 238859

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321 Joo Chiat Pl, #05-01A Parkway East Specialist Hospital, Singapore 427990 | Tel: +65 6517 9760
290 Orchard Road 09-01/02 Paragon Medical Centre, Singapore 238859 | Tel: +65 6320 0310


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