Difference Between Skin Tags and Warts

Skin tags and warts may appear the same to the untrained eye. Even doctors with minimal experience may misdiagnose these two conditions. It is very common to receive plenty of advice from friends and family about the diseases we may have. Combine this with a misdiagnosis, you get total panic. Therefore, it is important to understand the basic differences between skin tags and genital warts.

Genital Warts

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a DNA virus which infects skin cells and mucus membranes. It can only multiply in dead skin cells. It cannot bind to the living cells. Most of the time HPV does not cause any symptoms, but some can cause warts. (Common warts, ano-genital warts, flat warts and plantar warts) Others can cause vulval, penile, vaginal, pharyngeal, anal, esophageal, and cervical cancers. Some types of HPV cause respiratory papillomatosis which features warts in the larynx and other regions of the respiratory tree. This can lead to obstruction of airways and bronchiectasis.

HPV can go from mother to baby during vaginal birth. Some HPV types transmitted through sexual contact can cause genital warts. Chronic infection of high risk types of HPV may lead to skin cancers. Recent studies have shown that HPV increases the risk of ischemic heart diseases. 30 to 40 types of HPV transmit through intimate sexual contact. These types of HPV tend to infect the anal and genital regions. HPV infection responds to antiviral drugs. Transmission can be prevented by barrier contraceptive methods and vaccination.

Skin Tags

Skin tags are small benign growths that usually occur at skin creases. These are so common that almost half of the world population is believed to have at least a small skin tag. There is a genetic correlation to skin tags and diseases like acromegaly and polycystic ovarian syndrome; these are thought to be associated with skin tags. Armpits, groin, neck, and eyelids are common sites of these small tags. These are medically known as acrochordons. They appear spontaneously and grow slowly. They are not painful, and they do not rapidly enlarge overtime. There are rare cases where the tags measured around half an inch, but they are almost always very small to the point that you might not notice it even. Tags are skin colored. They sprout out of the skin surface and remain attached to the skin by a small fleshy stalk called the peduncle.

Microscopically skin tags are fat cells, fibrous tissue covered by a layer of epidermis unremarkable in every way. Skin tags in the face may get cut while shaving. Groin and armpit tags may rub against a skin surface and irritate it. Treatment for skin tags is not needed unless they are cosmetically disfiguring or cause frequent irritation. A simple excision under local anesthesia or cryotherapy is enough, but there is a chance of recurrence.

What is the difference between Skin Tags and Genital Warts?

• Genital warts are due to viral infection while skin tags are thought to be due to regular irritation.

• Warts are contagious while tags are not.

• Genital warts need partner screening to control the infection while tags do not.

• Tags are harmless while warts are somewhat harmful.


Read more:

1. Difference Between Corn and Wart

2. Difference Between Genital Warts and Herpes

3. Difference Between Syphilis and Herpes