How to Tell the Difference Between Warts, Corns, and Moles


The skin is a layered organ, (yes, it is an organ!) with the most superficial layer being rough and protective and the underlying layers being more sensitive. There is a protein called melanin which gives the skin its color; more melanin, the darker the skin color. Because the skin is widely exposed to so much of the external environment, it is prone to a lot of wear and tear.  Some of the most common skin conditions including warts, corns, and moles.




  • Warts are caused by a common virus known as human papillomavirus or HPV. Commonly seen on the hands, feet, and genital area, the virus causes the skin to grow in excess, producing rough, raised areas of fleshy growth.
  • Warts can spread from one person to another easily by direct touch or using items like towels and napkins that were used by the infected person.
  • There are different types of warts, based on where they grow – plantar on the soles of the feet, common which can occur anywhere, and periungual which appear under the nails of hands and toes.  Though harmless, they can be aesthetically unpleasant and sometimes hinder normal functioning.
  • Wart removal products from sprays to creams are used widely and contain salicylic acid.  Very rarely do warts require surgical intervention.
  • Healthy habits like washing hands, keeping feet clean, and not picking on warts can help to prevent the spread of warts.


  • Corns are thickened, raised areas usually seen on the palms and feet, generally conical or circular.  These appear due to repeated pressure on one particular part of the skin, like the fifth toe due to extra pressure from footwear and the bottom of the feet in people who stand for long hours.
  • In people who work with tools and instruments, like farming and machinery workers, hand corns are quite common.
  • Corns develop as the skin tries to protect the underlying layers by producing extra skin.  This is often painless but can turn painful and if significant in size, may require removal.
  • Corns can be easily prevented by avoiding tight shoes and repetitive pressure on the skin.
  • Removal is quite easy with over-the-counter products that contain salicylic acid or with removal in severe cases.


  • The skin contains a pigment called melanin which gives the skin its color.  Increased amounts of melanin in a particular area can produce moles.
  • While most adults normally have anywhere between 10 and 40 moles anywhere in the body, those with light skin color are more prone to have moles. While they are harmless in 95% of the cases, they could turn cancerous in a few people.
  • Any changes in size, color, and texture, especially in people who have a family history of cancer, should warrant medical attention.  Else, as they say, enjoy your beauty spots!


Warts, corns, and moles are very common skin conditions that can be prevented and treated if required.  The concern is mostly aesthetic and sometimes can hamper with functions like difficulty wearing shoes or using hand-held equipment.


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