What is the difference between papilloma and nevus or mollusk?

During life, various skin neoplasms appear on the human body – some develop as a result of viral activity, while others are congenital in nature. Some growths are quite difficult to distinguish from each other, it is sometimes impossible to understand that this is a nevus or papilloma to a simple layman.

Below we look at the symptoms and reasons why a molluscum contagiosum, nevus (birthmark), or papilloma appears on the body. Having learned to correctly recognize a particular neoplasm, you can always (if necessary) consult a doctor on time.

The characteristic features of papillomas

These skin growths are of viral origin – the result of infection and activation of human papillomavirus infection in the human body.Papilloma

The virus invades the epithelial cells of the upper layers of the dermis, reprograms their DNA, as a result of which they begin to uncontrollably divide and grow, so papillomas appear on the skin.

After infection, HPV does not immediately manifest itself – the average incubation period is 3 months, and if a person has strong immunity, the infection may be latent in the body for years (“in sleep mode”). Decreased immunity gives an impetus to the activation of the virus, and, accordingly, the appearance of papillomas.

The growths are formed on the skin, mucous membranes, sometimes internal organs, are single or multiple, sometimes even make up a large papillomatous area of ​​10 or more specimens (moles never merge into groups of more than 3 pieces). They are soft to the touch, the size of 1 element rarely exceeds 1.5 cm. Favorite places of localization – groin, armpits, neck.

Different types of papillomas will differ from each other in shape – some resemble a crest of a rooster (genital warts), others look like a hemisphere (flat warts), and others hang in the form of small papillae (acrochords).

And yet, the papilloma differs from the nevus primarily in color – this is usually a light growth, pinkish or merging with a skin tone. Mole, dark pigment.


Papillomas (as well as moles) can become malignant. The appearance of any uncharacteristic symptoms (pain, intense growth, inflammation, bleeding, etc.) is an occasion to consult a doctor.

What are nevi

Moles, and nevus in medicine, have no relationship with papillomavirus – these are congenital or acquired skin pigments, the localization and amount of which is laid in utero.

Some babies are born with one or more birthmarks, but in most cases the first pigmentation appears in the first 2 years of life and the older a person becomes, the more characteristic he will “mark” on his body.

Nevi appear as a result of the production of melanocytes, these cells produce a coloring substance, melanin, which accumulates in the upper layers of the skin and forms the same pigment.

The number of moles, their color, size depends on the genetic predisposition – most often children inherit multiple pigmentation from their parents. In addition, ultraviolet light contributes to the production of melanocytes. Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause the appearance of new pigments, as well as the growth and darkening of existing nevi.

You can distinguish nevus from papilloma in appearance. A benign nevus outgrowth is always symmetrical in shape, fairly dense to the touch (loose papillomas), smooth, and the color varies from light brown to dark, even black shades.

As well as papillomas of the mole are able to transform into malignant neoplasms – the malignancy process is called malignancy.

Signs of rebirth:

  • Intensive growth – normally a mole can increase by 2 mm per year;
  • The appearance on the surface of daughter neoplasms;
  • Soreness, inflammation, itching;
  • Excessive dryness, peeling, cracking;
  • Isolation of exudate;
  • Rapid darkening;
  • The formation of a bright halo around the growth.


Never try to remove a mole yourself – the doctor should treat any skin neoplasms. Otherwise, even a harmless nevus can degenerate into melanoma – skin cancer.

Signs of molluscum contagiosum

The external signs of the disease are very similar to papillomatosis – small, fairly dense nodules of flesh or slightly pink color appear on the body. The smallpox virus provokes the development of the disease.Clam

At the initial stage, rashes are localized in one part of the body, where the virus was introduced, then the disease progresses and can spread throughout the skin (excluding the foot and palm).

Understand that these are papillomas or mollusks by the following symptoms:

  • The appearance of single papules, the number of which is growing rapidly – literally in a week their number increases 3-5 times (papillomas are not able to multiply so actively);
  • A characteristic difference is the central part of the nodule is depressed (the growth has a umbilical shape);
  • Initially, the elements of the rash are quite dense, but as the disease progresses, their surface becomes thinner, white grained contents are visible through it.

So, the molluscum contagiosum can be recognized by two main signs – the depressed center, as well as the contents of the papules, which, when pressed, come out in the form of a light waxy substance (neither the papilloma nor the mole have such manifestations).


  1. Papillomas and molluscum contagiosum belong to viral neoplasms. A mole can be congenital or acquired; it has nothing to do with viruses.
  2. Nevuses, unlike papillomas and mollusks, always have a pronounced color – brown, reddish, even black.
  3. Moles never merge into groups of more than 3 pieces. Papillomas and mollusks can form multiple rashes on one part of the body.
  4. Papilloma is friable, soft. The mollusk is hard at first, but softens over time. A mole always has a dense structure, if it has changed, this may indicate malignancy.
  5. Nevus consists of epidermal tissues stained with melanin. In the structure of the papilloma there are vascular elements, and the cavity of the papule with molluscum contagiosum is filled with a white granular substance.
  6. The papilloma has asymmetrical edges, but the surface of the nevi and mollusks is smooth with clearly defined borders.

In order not to torment yourself with conjectures, but rather to determine the nature of the neoplasm, go to the doctor and go through the diagnosis.

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