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Identifying Skin Tags vs Genital Warts: What Are the Similarities and Differences?

written by: DulceCorazon • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 6/17/2010

There are some similarities between genital warts and skin tags. When you are not sure which it is, it is imperative that you see your physician for consultation. Here are some facts about both skin growths.

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    What are Genital Warts?

    Genital warts are flesh or gray colored growths in the genital area. Also known as condyloma acuminata, genital warts are transmitted from person to person through unprotected sexual contact. The disease is caused by several strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Both men and woman of any age can be infected with the virus. It is however, commonly seen in individuals between the ages of 17 to 33 years. This sexually transmitted disease is very contagious, making it possible to contract the disease even with a single sexual contact with an infected person. Infection with HPV also increases the risk for the development of cervical cancer in women.

    Symptoms often experienced by infected individuals are itchiness around the genital area and presence of discharges. At times, an infected woman may have bleeding in between her menstrual cycle. Likewise, infected people may report difficulty in urinating especially if the warts are causing obstruction in the urethra.

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    What are Skin Tags?

    Skin tags, also referred to as acrochordons, are harmless or nonmalignant skin growths that are small and soft. Risk for developing skin tags increases in obese person. Heredity also plays an important role in the development of these harmless skin growths. Some skin tags may fell off without being noticed but most skin tags just hang in the skin unless removed. Common sites where these growths develop are the underarms, base of the neck, eyelids, under the breasts and groin folds. A skin tag usually starts as a bump in the skin that eventually increases in size similar to a grape.

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    What are the Comparisons Between Genital Warts and Skin Tags?

    Warts and skin tags are common skin disorders and can sometimes be mistaken for each other. They are similar in size, where both are small, and may also have the same color which is fleshy. Genital warts however, may have variations in color especially when the blood vessel in the warts has ruptured turning it to gray-colored.

    Skin tags rarely affect the suprapubic area, while warts frequently do. Genital warts are common on the shaft of the penis and scrotum, while skin tags dangle in the groin folds. Skin tags are not contagious, while genital warts are.

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    What are the Treatment for Genital Warts or Skin Tags?

    The two skin growths differ in their causative factor, location of growth and in the modality of treatment. People with genital warts are often given medications for treatment. Cryotherapy and laser treatment are also effective forms of treatment for genital warts.

    Skin tags are usually do not present any pain, but for cosmetic reasons, affected individuals may choose to have them removed. Removal of skin tags can be done by incision, cryotherapy or cauterization.

    When not sure whether what you have are genital warts or skin tags, it is recommended that you consult your doctor for proper identification and treatment.

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    References

    emedicinehealth: Genital Warts

    Medicine.net: Skin Tag

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