Finding any new bumps, moles, warts, or skin tags can be unnerving and it’s not uncommon to quickly move to the idea that it might be cancerous.
Cancer is about prevention and knowledge, so becoming aware of the facts and the signs and symptoms is the first step to taking control of your health and wellness. Additionally, understanding your resources and skin cancer natural treatment options will help you to more effectively fight the disease should you find that you have it.
If you’ve discovered a new skin growth and are wondering whether it’s a wart or skin cancer, the first step is to know the differences between the two. Let’s take a closer look at a wart vs skin cancer, so you can learn how to tell if it’s cancerous or not.
What Exactly is a Wart?
Warts can appear on any area of the body and are caused by viruses in the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. There are over 40 different types of HPV and the virus can be transmitted from one person to another by direct or indirect contact.5
The common wart can vary in appearance depending on where they’re located on the body and how thick the skin is in that particular region. This skin growth can look like a small cauliflower or solid blister— and specific types include common warts, flat warts, pigmented warts, and plantar warts.1
- Common warts: These are rough, raised bumps that appear on the hands, fingers, or elbows. They can cause pain and are sometimes prone to bleeding (this is good to note, as cancerous warts will also bleed). In most cases, the common wart is slighter greyer compared to the rest of the skin.
- Flat warts: These dark and slightly raised lesions can pop up anywhere throughout the body. This common skin problem is small, flat, and usually goes unnoticed.
- Plantar warts: These are hard and tend to occur on the ball of the heel or the foot which can lead to discomfort. Unlike other types of warts, plantar warts grow into the skin, not outside of it. While a plantar wart is not dangerous, it can cause discomfort while walking.
- Oropharyngeal warts: Coming in different shapes and sizes, these can be found on the tongue, cheek, or oral surfaces. Typically, they aren’t painful.
Often, warts can disappear within 1 to 5 years without any treatment at all. If warts are large or found in sensitive areas, treatments range between salicylic acid, cryotherapy, duct tape, surgery, electrocautery, laser treatment, photodynamic therapy, chemical treatments, topical creams, cantharidin, and antigen shots. 1
Most warts are benign, though certain strains of HPV can lead to warts on, in, or around the genitals (which can potentially lead to certain types of cancer). For this reason, it’s suggested that anyone who discovers genital warts should see a doctor for an assessment. To reduce the risk of catching or spreading warts don’t touch other people’s warts, share personal items, scratch warts, brush or shave the hair in areas that have them, or bite your fingernails if warts are nearby. It’s also a good idea to wear sandals when you’re entering and leaving communal showers and pools. Now that you know what exactly a the common wart is, you’ll be better able to tell whether a growth is a wart or skin cancer. 1 If you are still having trouble deciphering whether or not your skin condition is cancerous, talk to your dermatologist for further examination.
What Is a Skin Tag?
Another common skin problem, skin tags are a flap of skin that form from friction. Whether it’s skin rubbing against skin or a hard fabric, skin tags first appear as a small bump and can increase in size the more they are agitated. These skin cells will continue to cluster together until the small formation appears to be barely hanging on. While skin tags aren’t dangerous, they can cause irritation. If you do not like the sight of your skin tag or it is painful, your doctor can remove them.
Natural Options for Wart Removal
After you’ve checked with your health care professional about whether or not your particular growth is a wart vs. skin cancer, you might be interested in exploring some natural options for wart removal. Although HPV and warts can be a source of embarrassment for some, rest assured that you’re not alone. About 1 in 4 people in the United States are affected by HPV.6
Here are some natural options for wart removal that have shown promising results.
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil (or Melaleuca alternifolia) has antimicrobial and exfoliating properties. In a small study, it was found that topical wart treatments with tea tree oil reduces warts.
- Apple cider vinegar: A popular wart removal treatment with apple cider vinegar calls for soaking a cotton ball in the vinegar and applying it to the skin before bedtime. Protect the wart and keep the cotton ball in place by using a piece of tape or a bandage. Remember that apple cider vinegar is acidic, and can cause irritation in some people.
- Echinacea: Also called the purple coneflower, it’s been shown that taking echinacea as an oral supplement or tea can help reduce the incidence of warts.
- Ficus carica: In study participants, a latex from this type fig tree helped to reduce the occurrence of warts.
- Garlic ointments: Garlic ointments have been shown to reduce warts when applied topically.
What is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is caused when cells in the body grow exponentially. The two more frequently diagnosed types of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, which are highly treatable, followed by malignant melanoma which is more dangerous.4
When it comes to skin cancer, one of the most important tools we like to share is to spread the word of the ABCDE rule. This rule will help you stay alert for some of the common signs and symptoms of malignant melanoma. The first signs of melanoma usually present themselves in existing skin moles. So whether you’re analyzing a wart, a mole, or anything else related to the skin, keep the ABCDE rule in mind and perform a monthly self check-up. 3
- Asymmetry: If one part of the mole or mark doesn’t match the other, this is a cause for concern.
- Border: If the edges of the marking are notched or irregular, this is a warning sign.
- Color: Keep track of whether or not the color is not the same all over, and includes shades of brown or black with irregularities in color of pink, red, white, or blue.
- Diameter: Take note if the spot is bigger than a pencil eraser — or larger than about 1/4 inch across.
- Evolving: Notice if the mole is changing in shape, size, or color.
Keep in mind that the best way to minimize your risk of developing skin cancer is to protect your skin. Wear a daily sunscreen, limit times outdoors during peak sunshine hours, avoid tanning beds, and opt for a wide-brimmed hat and shady spots.
Differences Between a Wart and Skin Cancer
While warts tend to be harmless, it’s crucial to note that skin cancer takes on many different forms. Abnormal looking skin moles, freckles, and warts can often be skin cancer in disguise, so it’s important to know how to tell if a wart is cancerous. 2
After basal cell, squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. This particular type of cancer forms when the squamous cells begin to grow uncontrollably in the epidermis (or top layers of the skin). There are lots of symptoms squamous cell carcinoma exhibits — among them, a wart-like growth. One of the main factors to pay attention to when analyzing skin cancer that looks like a wart, is to ask yourself the question — does it bleed or crust? Warts are typically painless and will not crust or bleed, however, with skin cancer they typically will.
Squamous cell carcinoma tends to first appear as a red and scaly plaque of skin. It may get larger and form a sore or it may show up as a red, hard bump that doesn’t go away.The skin lesion might itch or burn and tends to appear in areas that have had the most sun exposure like the lips, arms, legs, face, ears, and top of the hands. The good news is that if squamous cell carcinoma is caught early, it can be treated effectively.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and occurs from abnormal growth of basal cells. Basal cell carcinoma, another type of non-melanoma skin cancer, can also tend to look like a wart, as it typically shows up as a small, pearly bump.
If you have a bump that persists, especially if it crusts or bleeds, it’s time to see the doctor for a diagnosis so you can be treated. As we like to say — when in doubt, get it checked out. A doctor can perform a biopsy to let you know if it’s a wart, skin tag, or skin cancer. Early detection of identifying skin cancer can reduce potential risk factors later on. After diagnosis, there are several treatment options, ranging from laser cancer treatment to whole-body hypothermia.
What to Do Next
Becoming aware of how to tell if a wart or skin tag is cancerous is the first step. If you’ve visited your doctor and received a diagnosis, the next step is to discuss whether or not you’ll need surgery or if you’re interested in a skin cancer alternative treatment plan.
At Immunity Therapy Center, we specialize in alternative cancer treatments to help you fight your battle with cancer. Our skin cancer natural treatment program is designed to stimulate your immune system so that it can help fight cancer cells. We combine diet with natural, non-invasive, therapies that will work against your cancer cells’ weaknesses.
Always remember that the next best step is to stay hopeful. If you have questions or are interested in learning more about natural remedies for skin cancer or what we do, feel free to reach out to Immunity Therapy Center today. With a dedicated and enthusiastic staff, we’ll be happy to welcome you into our holistic cancer treatment center with a program that is 100% customized and personalized.
For now, be sure to check your warts, consult your doctor, and remember that Immunity Therapy Center is here to help keep you informed.
- medicalnewstoday.com. How to Treat a Wart https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/155039#prevention
- skinvision.com. Skin Cancer That Looks Like Warts https://www.skinvision.com/library/skin-cancer-that-looks-like-a-wart/
- cancer.org. How to Spot Skin Cancer https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/how-to-spot-skin-cancer.html
- cdc.gov. Basic Information About Skin Cancer https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/index.htm
- health.harvard.edu. Warts https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/warts-a-to-z
- healthline.com. What Are My Treatment Options for HPV? https://www.healthline.com/health/sexually-transmitted-diseases/hpv-natural-treatment#symptoms
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.