Any skin issue in your genital area can cause some concern, but genital warts are especially feared. At times simple pimples can get confused with genital warts by individuals who are unaware of some of the key differences between the two skin afflictions. The fact of the matter is, the differences in causes, symptoms and even how long they last are so dissimilar that once you are aware, you will never second guess yourself again. One of the easier defining factors is pimples are usually inflamed and reddish as opposed to skin colored like warts.
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Wart vs pimple: Causes, Symptoms, Differentiation
The biggest difference between a genital wart and a pimple are their underlying causes. While these are not visible factors, it helps to know in case you end up having genital warts. The cause of genital warts is a virus known as HPV. Learn about HIV warts at this link. This sexually transmitted infection can cause genital warts that are highly contagious, helping to spread the virus.
Pimples on the other hand, are caused by such factors as:
- Excessive sweating in the groin area.
- Dirt and oil buildup in pores.
- Hormonal changes before a menstrual cycle.
- Hormonal changes due to pregnancy.
- Poor hygiene.
- Allergic reactions to laundry detergents, soaps, etc.
Pimples are acne, and as such the fact that they can stem from just having generalized body acne is often overlooked. If you regularly get acne in other places on your body it is often not out of the ordinary for some to be located in your genital area. Many causes of pimples are due to unseen, in other words hormonal, reasons. Genital warts, on the other hand, have only one cause, so you either have HPV or you do not have genital warts. There are other skin problems that can masquerade as pimples. For more information on genital warts vs ingrown hairs, see here.
Overview of symptoms
GENITAL WARTS: are almost always painless, but itching is very common as a symptom, particularly when many warts are located together. Other symptoms of a rarer nature include burning sensations or the warts themselves being sensitive to the touch. Women who have genital warts located inside the vagina can have additional symptoms such as excess vaginal discharge, or pain and bleeding during sex.
PIMPLES: can be very painful compared to genital warts. The friction of your clothes or due to skin rubbing in the genital area can increase the pain even more. Other notable pimple symptoms are crusting or reddened areas around pimples and potential scarring after pimples have subsided. Pimples may or may not contain whitish fluid or pus which leaks when disturbed or “popped”. To find out if you can pop a wart, check out this article.
Always check with your doctor if you find any worrying skin condition in your genital region. Self-diagnosis is not always reliable. Additionally, genital warts are always contagious, so take necessary precautions to prevent spread if needed.
When examining for differences, remember that pimples often have a white head. Warts do not have heads, nor do they contain pus as they are virtually an infectious overgrowth of skin. It is also important to understand that genital warts are highly contagious, particularly during any type of sexual contact. Pimples cannot spread from one person to another at any point in time. Finally, take note that warts grow slowly over time, thus can never appear suddenly overnight. Since acne infections provoke inflammation, they can literally appear suddenly.
How to differentiate between pimples and genital warts?
Determining whether a genital skin issue is a genital wart or a pimple is relatively easy. Sometimes, however, one set of differences is not enough to be sure your bumps are simply a harmless case of acne. In this situation you should fully evaluate all factors of the bump including the look, feel, number of bumps, location and any pain you may experience.
Here are some clear and common signs to determine if your skin problem is a pimple or a genital wart:
- Amount: Genital warts often appear in clusters while pimples frequently are single.
- Coloring: Pimples are reddened and inflamed while warts are usually flesh colored.
- Feel: Pimples are smooth surfaced whereas warts are rough.
- Pain level: Pimples can be painful to the touch or pressure but warts are almost always painless.
- Pimples can contain and release pus while warts have no discharge.
One major way to differentiate between genital warts and genital acne is time-based. Pimples of all types typically last a week or two, with a month for severe cases. Warts last several months to years, during which they can grow, spread and multiply. If a suspected pimple has been around for months at a time, chances are high that it is either a genital wart or some other skin problem. As genital warts are not deadly or dangerous to your health, the wait and see approach is an extremely useful first step in figuring out your skin condition. Severe cases of genital acne can go on for months with new pimples repeatedly appearing, but this differs from warts.
Another factor that may indicate genital warts is location. While they can both appear in the same places, genital warts favor the moist areas of your genitals. So when bumps appear in places such as around your anal or vaginal opening, they are more likely to be warts. Pimples can appear anywhere and are often found on the thigh areas or parts of the groin genital warts don’t commonly show up. Of course pimples will not be located internally or just inside urethral openings, these signs point clearly to warts caused by HPV.
Physical features are by far the easiest way to tell the difference between warts and pimples. Rough-looking and cauliflower like surfaces are almost always warts. Any bump with a leaking center or white head is more than likely a pimple.
Genital warts also have one feature never seen in pimples, a cauliflower-like appearance. Not all warts have this look but no body acne will ever look this way. Clustering is also significantly more common in genital warts than it is for pimples. Warts can become so numerous and clustered they actually may be joined together. Pimples can of course appear in a group, but they will maintain separation just by the nature of them being single, infected oil glands and pores.
Pimples in the genital area, also known as body acne, are very different from genital warts. While their causes are both infection based, warts are the result of a viral infection and pimples are purely bacterial in nature. With pimples you will only need to wait a short time for them to go away if the underlying cause is corrected. Warts will last long periods and additionally are contagious. Thankfully, learning the variances between warts and pimples make determination simple.