What Are Warts, Moles and Skin Tags?

Warts are skin growths which are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) – they are non-cancerous. The virus causes keratin, a hard protein in the epidermis (the top layer of the skin) to grow too fast. The virus that causes them only affects human skin.Warts are different from moles. While moles are dark and can be quite large, warts tend to be small, skin-colored rough lumps. Warts most commonly appear on a person’s hands and feet and can often be seen on the knuckles or around the tips of the fingers.

Although warts are most commonly seen on children, in particular of the ages between four and six, they can be seen on adults also. Warts look like small growths or crustaceans on the skin.

Warts can be extremely contagious and can spread just by touching the infected area, often people tend to bite or scratch them in hope of removing them or because they are irritating. Once they begin to bleed warts are even more contagious and are then more likely to either spread on the human who already has the virus or can be passed on to other people. The risk of infecting others can be decreased by using certain types of wart removing nail polish and covering them up particularly in areas where they can be easily passed on e.g. swimming pools or gym mats.

Another pressing area, particularly within the dermatological branch of medicine is moles and skin tags. Moles even if small can be found on almost all human beings, and are also referred to as melanocytic naevi they are small brown coloured marks on the skin which are sometimes raised. They often increase in numbers during the teenage years through to the age of 30 and are prone to changing in appearance as well as increasing in numbers.

Moles that keep changing appearance should be monitored as some Moles can be cancerous moles. If the mole is in a hard to examine part of the body; e.g. back, back of the neck etc. you will need to enlist the assistance of your partner or a good friend – using the same person each time will help you to get more accurate feedback on the findings.

With this type of changing mole there is always the risk of a melanoma, the signs you should be looking for:

  • Moles which are exaggeratedly black, white or red should also be checked by a dermatologist, because the normal color is dark brown for skin moles;
  • Primarily asymmetric – that means the two halves do not overlap perfectly;
  • Irregular around the edges – poorly defined or with irregular edges are, most often associated to malignant moles;
  • Moles with a large diameter that have increased their size are usually a high risk of melanoma.
  • Moles with more colors on the surface or irregularly divided, whose color changes over time shows the risk of malignant moles;

Things that affect the amount of moles that someone might have could be due to a number of factors, they are often genetic and are inherited from parents. They can also be affected by where a human being grows up as the sun often cause a human to break out in a number of small moles. Often brown marks that are caused by sun shine aren’t moles, they often appear after being sun burnt and are referred to as sun spots.

Remember, a change of size, color or occasional bleeding may be the early signs of a possible cancerous mole or skin tag – these should not be ignored.

A skin tag on the other-hand is usually benign and harmless. They are, as their name implies, small tags of skin usually dangling on a stalk. They can appear on any part of the body surface (skin), but are typically found where skin rubs against skin such as the: armpits, eyelids, neck, groin and upper chest / under the breasts.

Whilst skin tags may in the main be harmless they are still unsightly appendages which can cause great anxiety to the sufferer.

Moles Warts and Skin Tags can all be removed.