When you find a suspiciously fleshy looking spot on your skin that prortrudes or feels scaly, then we hate to break it you: That's definitely not a pimple. You might have either a skin tag or a wart. Thing is, these two skin conditions are often interchanged, when they're two completely different things.
To help you find out which is which, we reached out to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Gaile Robredo-Vitas for the facts. Read on to answer all your questions!
What is a skin tag?
"Skin tags, or what we dermatologists refer to as Acrochordons, are common, skin-colored to brown benign skin growths with a fleshy stalk. They are usually small, are not painful but unsightly or bothersome and can get snagged in clothing or jewelry," describes Dr. Vitas.
She adds that skin tags don't have a known cause, but they usually grow in areas that experience a lot of friction, such as skin folds in the neck, eyelids, underarms, and groin. People also become more prone if you have a family history of skin tags, are obese, or are diabetic.
What is a wart?
"Warts, or what we dermatologists call verruca vulgaris, are areas of skin that thicken due to the presence of the wart virus. These lesions are also skin-colored but are rough to the touch," says the derm. "They can grow anywhere on the body but are commonly seen on the hands, the feet and the face. Although warts are infectious, some people are more susceptible than others."
Skin Tag VS. Wart: What's the difference?
"To an untrained eye, skin tags and warts may look the same, but differentiating the two is quite easy. Skin tags are small extensions of your skin that form a smooth bump, which possibly due to friction, rises and develops a stalk. Warts are thicker or callous-like, firm/hard and rough to touch with some with finger-like projections."
How do you remove skin tags and warts?
According to Dr. Vitas, skin tags are not dangerous and don't need to be removed. These are often removed mostly for comfort and cosmetic purposes through scissor excision, electrocautery or cryosurgery.
Meanwhile, warts can either heal on their own or require treatment, so it's best consult your dermatologist if you develop them. "Dermatologists often use acids or immune-enhancers but sometimes do in-clinic procedures such as cryosurgery, laser or electrocautery," says the doctor.
If you want to remove a skin tag or wart, it'll be best to have it done professionally. Dr. Vitas explains, "We caution against DIY treatments as trying to remove skin tags or warts on your own can lead to infection, bleeding and scarring."