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.
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.
Symptoms of warts include:
Symptoms of skin tags include:
If you have any of the symptoms stated above, make an appointment with us for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.
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.
Anyone can develop warts and skin tags, but certain factors may increase the risk.
In Singapore, common risk factors for warts include:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MBBS(NUS, SINGAPORE), MRCP(RCP, UNITED KINGDOM)