Warts vs skin tags and how you can zap both in your lunch break
19 Jul 2019
Warts and skin tags are both harmless skin growths. While many people sometimes confuse them, they’re definitely very different. Still, they do have things in common and the first is that they’re never welcomed. Fortunately, there are several ways to get rid of them. Treatment is quick with easy in-and-out procedures you could easily do in 30 minutes or less!
Despite being incredibly common, nobody appreciates a wart. Contrary to what your mother says, you can’t catch them from kissing frogs, but you can get them from touching someone who’s got them. All warts are caused by a highly contagious virus, a strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. It typically enters your skin via a tiny cut or scratch which is why men often get them in their beard area if they shave. Once the virus enters your skin, it causes your cells to rapidly replicate and the result is a bumpy-textured growth.
Happily, treating warts is an easy fix. It can be blitzed in a flash using cryotherapy, a procedure that’s essentially just using a little liquid nitrogen to freeze it off. As it’s so cold, it has a numbing effect that makes it merely uncomfortable as opposed to painful. (Many patients describe the feeling as being stuck to an ice cube!) After the initial freezing, you might feel a mild burning sensation as the wart thaws out and turns into a blister. After about 4 to 7 days, it’ll break up and disintegrate. Easy, right?
Another way to tackle warts is via a long-pulsed Nd: YAG lasers like the Laser Genesis. It’s an ideal solution for stubborn warts that won’t go away and usually, just one treatment is necessary. A topical anaesthetic can be applied to the affected area before treatment but many of our patients don’t bother with it as the flash of discomfort is so fleeting.
Unlike a rough-textured wart, a skin tag is a soft, smooth growth that looks like a tiny ‘flap’ attached to your skin via a narrow stalk that’s called a “peduncle”. (Yes, we laughed too.) While warts are contagious, skin tags are not as they’re caused by friction, not a virus. This is why you’ll find them in areas where skin rubs against skin. Think armpits, thighs and the groin area. Men who wear collared shirts that constantly rub against their neck are also at risk of developing a skin tag.
Much like warts, skin tags are harmless but unsightly. However, if you’re getting them in an area you usually shave, things can get messy. If you nick one of them, you run the risk of getting an infection. Speaking of which, don’t attempt to cut off, or worse yet, pull off a skin tag by yourself. That’s another sure-fire route to infection.
Your best bet is to make an appointment to see a doctor who can perform a quick, simple and, most importantly, sterile skin tag removal. They can perform an excision using a scalpel or and freeze it off via cryotherapy. If you apply a topical anaesthetic, you won’t feel a thing!
The bottom line
Warts and skin tags are completely benign but can turn into a serious infection if you attempt to get rid of them yourself. If you’ve got either or both and they’re bothering you, it’s best that you make an appointment to see a doctor who can remove them in a way that’s painless and fast as well as under sterile conditions. They’ll be able to advise on the best removal method and, whichever you choose, they can ensure you leave wart and skin-tag free in a matter of minutes.