Warts vs. Other Skin Growths: How to Tell the Difference

Warts vs. Other Skin Growths: How to Tell the Difference

Skin growths are a common dermatological issue, manifesting themselves in various ways. Two such manifestations that are often confused are warts and other types of skin growth.

Though they may seem similar at first glance, knowing the distinct differences between them is crucial to diagnosis and treatment. In this blog post, we’ll explore these differences and how you can tell one from the other.

What are Warts?

Warts are small, non-cancerous growths that appear on the skin. They are caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus causes the rapid growth of cells on the skin’s outer layer. Warts are usually harmless and often disappear on their own over time. They are most common on the hands and feet but can appear anywhere on the body.

Warts are typically rough to the touch, grainy in appearance, and may feature a pattern of tiny black dots often called small seeds, clotted blood vessels. The size and shape of warts can vary, but they’re usually skin-colored and less than a centimeter in diameter.

Types of Warts

There are several different types of warts, each with a slightly different appearance:

  • Common warts – usually appear on fingers and toes, characterized by a rough, grainy appearance and rounded top.
  • Plantar warts– grow on the soles of the feet. They’re hard, thick patches of skin with dark specks. Unlike other warts, plantar warts grow into your skin, not out of it.
  • Flat warts– these are smaller and smoother than other warts. They can grow anywhere, but children usually get them on the face while men get them in the beard area and women on their legs.
  • Filiform warts– these are long, narrow warts that can grow quickly. They usually appear on the face.

Other Types of Skin Growths

Numerous other types of skin growths aren’t warts. Here are a few common ones:

  • Molesare small skin markings that develop due to pigment-producing cells in the skin. Moles are usually brown or black and can appear anywhere on the skin.
  • Skin tagsare small, soft, skin-colored growths hanging off the skin. They’re benign and are most commonly found in areas where the skin folds, such as the armpits, groin, and neck.
  • Seborrheic keratosesare common noncancerous skin growths in adults. They often appear as a waxy, scaly, slightly elevated growth and vary in color from light tan to black.
  • Cystsare closed pockets of tissue filled with fluid or other material. They can appear anywhere on the skin and vary in size.
  • Lipomasare soft, fatty lumps that grow under the skin. They’re noncancerous and usually harmless.

Prevention and Treatment

Warts can spread through direct contact, so avoiding touching someone else’s wart is essential. Good hygiene, like washing your hands regularly and not picking at warts, can prevent them from spreading.

Over-the-counter treatments, such as Wart Off, are available for common and plantar warts, including salicylic acid preparations and freeze sprays. However, more significant or persistent warts may need professional medical treatment.

For other skin growths, treatment will depend on the type. Moles usually don’t require treatment unless they change in size, shape, or color. Skin tags, cysts, and lipomas can be removed if they become bothersome, while seborrheic keratoses may be removed for cosmetic reasons or to alleviate any discomfort they may cause.


While warts and other skin growths may seem similar, they differ. Always consult a dermatologist or medical professional if you’re unsure about skin growth. Regular skin checks are also an excellent practice, as early detection can be crucial for conditions like skin cancer. Remember, this blog is meant to provide information and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have any concerns about your skin’s health, seek advice from a medical professional.