Do they all sound similar or are they different from each other? Are they infectious and contagious? Do they spread by skin to skin contact? Can they develop in skin cancer? Should they be removed or not?
The common skin blemishes like mole, skin tag, milia, wart and molluscum may all sound similar, but their causes and treatments are way different from each other.
Let’s start with the wart & molluscum. Wart & molluscum are infectious skin growths. They may look like harmless growth, but they are laden with viruses inside them. And like any other viral infection, they are very much contagious i.e. they spread by skin to skin contact. They may spread in patient’s own skin developing new growths on virtually any part of the body from head to toe including face and genitals. They may also spread to a close family member or friend, who may come in direct contact with growth or share the infected objects used by patient like towel, comb, shaving instruments or make-up kits. A very common source of infection is contaminated instruments at salons and beauty parlors. The wart and molluscum should definitely be removed as they are viral infections and are highly contagious. If left untreated, the Genital warts, also known as “Condyloma Acuminata” may develop into cancer. *In a study published in international Journal of Cancer, the Researchers have found that in patient with condyloma acuminate, the risk of cancer of penis in men increases by 2000% and the risk of cancer of the vulva and vagina among women increases by more than 1000%.
Rest of the lesions i.e. Mole, Skin tag and Milia are neither infectious nor contagious. They are usually benign and harmless. These skin growths may be source of discomfort if they are in shaving and waxing areas. There may be cuts, bleeding, infection or irritation during shaving and waxing. Or They may get entangled with jewelry and cause bleeding and irritation. Usually their removal is recommended only when they become a source of irritation, infection, bleeding or discomfort because of their location or entanglement with jewelry, still a large number of patients come for their removal because of cosmetic reasons. A mole, milia or skin tag visible on face, neck, shoulder or under arms may not look good and one may seek for its removal to avoid cosmetic embarrassment.
Here mole requires special mention because of growing concern of mole developing into skin cancer. In most cases the moles are harmless but you should be aware of the risk factors and keep a watch on any change in the mole. Like - if their number grows rapidly, if they are painful or if they change in colour and size; all this may be a danger sign and you should visit a doctor. Usually all the moles first appear before the age of 25. If you notice that you have a new, strange mole or skin tag OR one of the already existing moles started to itch or bleed; It’s again a danger sign and you should make an appointment with your dermatologist.
* (International journal of cancer / Volume 119, issue4; Cancer risk among patients with condyloma acuminate; Caroline Nordenvall, ellen T. Chang, Hans-Olov Adami, weimin Ye)]