Moles and warts are both common skin growths, but they are very different. Although they may look similar, moles usually have distinct characteristics that make them easy to recognize. Knowing how to differentiate between the two is important for properly identifying potential health concerns.
What are Moles?
Moles are small, dark growths on the skin that range in color from light brown to black. They usually appear as raised spots or patches, but moles can also be flat with a slightly raised border. Most people have 10-45 moles scattered throughout their bodies that typically become more numerous as they age. They may have distinct patterns such as being shaped like a circle or an oval and will typically remain the same size over time.
What are Warts?
Warts are caused by skin infections from the human papilloma virus (HPV). They appear as raised bumps that can vary in color and size. Common types of warts include flat, plantar, and genital warts. Warts also spread easily through contact with affected areas on the skin. Warts may eventually disappear without treatment, but this can take years.
How to Identify Moles and Warts?
There are a few distinct characteristics that can help you identify whether a skin growth is a mole or wart. Moles are usually round or oval, and typically have darker colorations than their surrounding skin, such as brown, black, or blue-ish gray. Moles are usually found on areas exposed to the sun like the face, arms, and legs. Warts, on the other hand, often appear as rough bumps with a hard texture and uneven surface. They’re typically flesh-colored or brown and are most commonly found on the hands and feet.
Can I Remove Them?
Yes, both moles and warts can be removed for cosmetic reasons or for medical reasons. For moles, removal may be a good idea if it appears to change in shape, size, color, or texture. Depending on where it is located and the size of the mole, you may need a doctor’s consultation as surgical removal may be necessary. Warts can be removed through different methods such as cryotherapy (freezing) or topical medications. It’s best to consult a dermatologist to determine the best method for removing your wart safely and effectively.
Is There a Risk of Skin Cancers with Moles and Warts?
While moles and warts are not inherently cancerous, some types of moles such as dysplastic nevi have a higher-than-normal risk for becoming cancerous. For this reason, it is important to check any changes in moles with your doctor. Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and some warts may increase your risk for skin cancers, such as squamous cell carcinomas. It is best to be monitored periodically by a dermatologist if you have multiple or changing warts.