Moles vs. Warts: Know the Difference
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on November 22, 2023
Moles are small, often dark, skin growths that develop from pigment-producing cells, while warts are rough skin growths caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Moles are small pigmented growths on the skin, often appearing as small, dark brown spots, caused by clusters of pigmented cells. They are usually harmless and can appear anywhere on the skin. Warts, in contrast, are rough, skin-colored growths caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They commonly appear on the hands and feet and can be contagious.
Moles are usually benign, but changes in their appearance can be a sign of melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer. Regular monitoring and dermatologist check-ups are recommended. Warts, while unsightly and sometimes uncomfortable, are not cancerous. They can be removed for cosmetic reasons or if they cause discomfort.
Moles typically develop in early childhood and adolescence, and their appearance can change over time. They can become raised or change color, and new ones can appear, particularly with sun exposure. Warts, however, can develop at any age, often appearing where the skin has been broken, such as from biting fingernails or shaving. Warts can spread through skin-to-skin contact or to other parts of the body.
The surface of a mole is typically smooth, and they can be round or oval in shape. Moles are generally uniform in color, ranging from pink to dark brown. Warts, however, have a rougher texture, resembling a cauliflower, and can be skin-colored or slightly darker. They may also contain tiny black dots, which are clotted blood vessels.
In terms of treatment, moles do not usually require treatment unless they are bothersome or potentially cancerous. Dermatologists can remove them through various methods. Warts, however, often require treatment to resolve, such as over-the-counter medications, cryotherapy, or other dermatological treatments, especially because they can spread.
Clusters of pigmented cells
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Pink to dark brown
Skin-colored or slightly darker
Changes can indicate melanoma
Contagious, spread by HPV
Removal if bothersome or risky
Often require removal to resolve
Moles and Warts Definitions
Benign pigmented spots on the skin.
He had several moles on his back that were all harmless.
A small, rough skin growth caused by HPV.
She treated the wart on her finger with an over-the-counter remedy.
A common type of skin growth, usually dark and round.
She noticed several new moles after her beach vacation.
Viral-induced skin growths, often appearing on hands and feet.
He had a wart on his hand that he got frozen off at the doctor's office.
A small, pigmented, and often benign skin growth.
He had a mole on his shoulder that he got checked by a dermatologist.
Rough-textured skin lesions caused by viral infection.
A plantar wart on her foot made walking uncomfortable.
Melanocytic nevi, commonly known as moles, are typically harmless skin lesions.
The dermatologist examined the mole to ensure it wasn't cancerous.
HPV-caused growths, common in children and adults.
The dermatologist explained that the wart could be easily removed.
A skin lesion formed by clusters of melanocytes.
The mole on her face had grown slightly over the years.
A hard rough lump growing on the skin, caused by infection with certain viruses and occurring typically on the hands or feet.
A skin lesion, commonly a nevus, that is typically raised and discolored.
A similar growth or protuberance, as on a plant.
Any of various small insectivorous mammals of the family Talpidae of North America and Eurasia, usually living underground and having a thickset body with light brown to dark gray silky fur, strong forefeet for burrowing, and often rudimentary eyes.
A genital wart.
A machine that bores through hard surfaces, used especially for tunneling through rock.
One that resembles or is likened to a wart, especially in unattractiveness or smallness.
A spy who operates from within an organization, especially a double agent operating against that agent's own government from within its intelligence establishment.
An imperfection; a flaw.
A massive, usually stone wall constructed in the sea, used as a breakwater and built to enclose or protect an anchorage or a harbor.
Plural of wart
The anchorage or harbor enclosed by a mole.
Contagious skin growths appearing as rough bumps.
The child developed a wart on his knee from playing on the gym floor.
A fleshy abnormal mass formed in the uterus by the degeneration or abortive development of an ovum.
In the International System, the base unit used in representing an amount of a substance, equal to the amount of that substance that contains as many atoms, molecules, ions, or other elementary units as the number of atoms in 0.012 kilogram of carbon-12. The number is 6.0221 × 1023, or Avogadro's number. See Table at measurement.
Any of various spicy sauces of Mexican origin, usually having a base of onion, chilies, nuts or seeds, and unsweetened chocolate and served with meat or poultry.
Plural of mole
Repeatedly Asked Queries
How do moles form?
Moles form due to clusters of melanocytes, the skin's pigment-producing cells.
What is a wart?
A wart is a rough skin growth caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Can moles become cancerous?
While most moles are benign, changes in them can indicate skin cancer.
Are warts contagious?
Yes, warts are contagious and can spread through direct contact.
How do warts form?
Warts form when HPV infects the top layer of the skin.
Do moles change over time?
Moles can change in size, color, and shape over time.
Where on the body do moles appear?
Moles can appear anywhere on the skin.
What is a mole?
A mole is a benign skin growth formed by pigmented cells.
Can moles be removed?
Moles can be removed for cosmetic reasons or if they are suspected to be cancerous.
What do warts look like?
Warts are rough, skin-colored growths, sometimes with black dots.
Can moles be present at birth?
Some moles, known as congenital nevi, are present at birth.
Where are warts commonly found?
Warts are commonly found on hands, feet, and sometimes the face.
Can warts spread to other parts of the body?
Yes, warts can spread to other areas of the body.
Should I have a mole checked by a doctor?
Any changes in a mole's appearance should be checked by a dermatologist.
Can warts lead to cancer?
Common warts are not cancerous, but certain types of HPV can lead to skin cancer.
How are warts treated?
Warts can be treated with over-the-counter remedies, cryotherapy, or other medical procedures.
Do moles grow back after removal?
Once a mole is completely removed, it usually does not grow back.
What color are moles?
Moles range from pink to dark brown.
Do warts always need treatment?
Some warts may go away on their own, but treatment can speed up the process.
Are all warts caused by the same type of HPV?
Different types of HPV cause different types of warts.
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Written byShumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.