Difference between Moles, Warts and Skin Tags

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How to tell the Difference between Moles, Warts and Skin Tags.

No doubt there are different types of skin growths. Ranging from skin tags, warts, moles, sun spots and age spots, the list is inexhaustible. Lucky enough, most of these growths are harmless and non-cancerous.  Dermatologist’s help in identifying and advising on best remedy for different growths can’t be understated.

skin tags removal

Skin Tags



What Are Skin Tags?

These are freshy growths protruding from the skin. They appear in a flat flushed shape. They usually resemble your skin and are fond of appearing on armpits, genital areas or eyelids. They may be astonishing but there should be no cause of alarm since they are just excessive skin formed into a flap.

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Skin Tags

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What Are Warts?

These are highly contagious dangle like skin tags. They have cylindrical shape and are pink in color. They appear in clumps on the skin and can be transmitted via contact with infected persons, such as sexual contact. Though unpleasant, they rarely pain, unless irritated through chafing.

Warts on hand

What are moles?

These are skin lesions which occur when cells in the skin grow in an irregular manner on the skin. They darken when exposed to UV rays and during pregnancy. They are the most serious skin issue of all the three. They form slowly and if they are cancerous, they begin to change. Click here to learn more about Types of moles

Moles ( Pigmented nevi )

It’s disturbing and at worst ego damaging to discover constant skin growths. Skin tags and warts are the major causes of new skin growths. They are not only unpleasant but also uncomfortable. Despite many similarities between the varied skin growths, they also possess significant differences. Honestly, moles, warts and skin tags are irritating. They can also be misleading and hard to differentiate. Below is the difference between them classified on their causes, location, risk factors, appearances and treatment methods.

Causal agent differences.

  • Warts.

Caused by superficial skin infections with human papillomavirus (HPV).

HPV infect superficial skin cells and hijack internal functioning. This stimulates cell growth leading to development of warts. Research shows that there are more than 150 types of HPV. These types affect specific body areas making it highly contagious.

  • Skin tags.

The cause isn’t clear. However, they are common in areas where the skin rubs together. Frictions in those areas lead to development of the skin tags. Hormone imbalance may also lead to their development. They are not contagious as they are not caused by any infection.

  • Moles. ( Pigmented nevi )

Caused by growth of skin cells into a cluster instead of being evenly spread over the skin.
Those cells are called melanocytes and they are responsible for skin’s natural color.
They darken during pregnancy and when exposed to strong UV rays.

Appearance and Texture 

  • Skin tags.

They are small and fresh colored. They are brown in color with thin stalk to connect to the skin surface. Generally, they are non-cancerous with soft texture. Most of them are small, less than one-quarter inch, few are large. They usually develop at a given site but solitary growths develop in one area.

  • Warts.

They have varied appearances. The appearance depends on the type of HPV responsible for their growth and their location on the body.

They are dome-shaped and have rough surface with small black specks. Their size range from one-quarter to three-eight of an inch. They appear in slightly gray or brown colors.

Planter warts develop on soles of the feet. They resemble common warts and smooth surface as a result of friction at their location.

Flat warts are slightly raised above skin surface. They resemble small pimples and are smooth in texture. They occur in crops and are pink and slightly yellow in color.

Filiform warts develop from the skin surface off a narrow base. They have finger-like projection on the surface.

Areas Affected.

  • Skin Tags.

Occurs at friction affected sites, that is armpits, groin and neck areas. They also occur on eyelids and beneath the breasts in women. For obese people, they usually occur in skin folds of the belly and back.

  • Warts.

These can affect any skin surface. Different types appear in different areas. They commonly appear on fingers, arms and legs. Planter warts occur on feet soles and ankles. Filiform and flat warts commonly appear on the face while flat warts usually occur on the legs and arms.

Age and Risk factors.

  • Skin Tags.

Usually affect adults, that is the middle aged and other adults. Probability of their emergence increases with age.

They may appear in pregnant women, obese and diabetic people also have higher risk for developing skin tags.

  • Warts.

Mostly occur in children and teens. This is usually due to their under developed immunity.

As immunity increase with age, its development cases also decrease. They can develop in adults if they contact a type of HPV virus which they don’t have sufficient immunity against.

Their main risk factors are common showers, weak immune system, handling raw meat and chronic skin conditions.


  • Skin tags.

These are noncancerous and have no symptoms. Medical treatment is not mandatory. If they are located on the face, people opt for removal. They can be easily cut off. Larger skin tags are removed using freezing technique.

  • Warts.

They normally disappear with time. However, being contagious and highly irritating, many people opt for treatment so as to speed disappearance. This choice also depends on age, location and size of wart. Over the counter treatments are available for various types, such as plantar warts. Other medical methods include surgical removal or destructive therapies.

While most moles are harmless and don’t require treatment, in some cases, a mole will need to be removed if it poses a risk for cancer or if it bothers a patient, for aesthetic reasons or otherwise. Once your dermatologist or doctor has identified a dangerous mole or you have identified a mole you’d like to remove, there are a few options for treatment.

  • Moles.

Moles removal is relatively painless. They can be removed by cutting, share removal, freezing or laser removal. This is dependent on the doctor’s advice and preference.