Embarrassing Skin Conditions Part 1: Warts, Folliculitis, Skin Tags

Dr Helena Torpinski|Skin lumps and bumps
30 October 2018

Do you have a secret you guard closely, with clothing, make up or long hair?

Embarrassing skin conditions can affect anyone and they may not be medically important, but cosmetically they can be a frustrating source of social stress and self esteem issues.

As parents, we also may have children living with embarrassing skin conditions. These can affect how they feel about themselves at really sensitive times of their lives, such as those tricky teenage years.

In this first blog of a series we’ll be publishing over coming months, we’re looking at embarrassing skin conditions and the treatments that are available for them.

We’re starting with some of the most common conditions we see here in the clinic: warts, folliculitis and skin tags.


Warts are troubling bumps that can occur anywhere on the body (even where the sun don’t shine). This is because they are caused by on of numerous potential strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

There are different types of warts, including palmar warts (on hands) and plantar warts (on feet).

Warts present no real medical problems, though they can often be knocked and may bleed.

Warts will generally disappear on their own, but this can take up to five years. For warts in locations that are very obvious, that inhibit normal functioning (on hands or feet) or that get knocked a lot, treating the wart can be of significant benefit.

Warts are very common, with estimates of approximately a third of children experiencing them at some time. Rates are much lower in adults. This is presumed to be because warts are caused by a virus which may be stronger in younger people whose immune systems are not fighting it as strongly as a fully grown healthy adult.

Treatment Options for Warts

Home remedies abound, as well as over-the-counter options at available from pharmacists. Some of these may be effective. A GP visit is advisable and should result in a recommendation of appropriate treatment options.

Here at our clinic, we will review your warts and if we think it’s the best option, we can recommend laser treatment. Laser can be particularly effective on stubborn warts that have been resistant to other treatments.

You can read more about our wart treatments here.


Folliculitis appears as small red bumps on the skin, perhaps with white heads like pimples. It can look like a rash or a more serious disease when appearing on the stomach or back.

Folliculitis can afflict people of any age. It is caused when a bacterial or fungal infection affects a hair follicle (the tiny pocket under the skin’s’ surface in which hair grows), therefore can occur anywhere on the body that grows hair.

However, it most usually occurs in areas where the skin is constantly rubbed by clothing or other parts of the body, such as thighs and buttocks. Skin where hair is commonly removed are also at higher risk, such as faces and bikini areas.

Treatment for folliculitis

While folliculitis doesn’t generally present any serious medical issues, serious infection does occur very rarely. If those small red bumps begin to grow, look more irritated or get sore they should be seen by a doctor for suitable treatment.

For cosmetic reasons, however, people generally prefer to treat folliculitis sooner, rather than let it run its course and resolve naturally. Recommended treatments include saline washes, antibacterial soap (both available at a chemist) and antibiotics can be prescribed by a doctor.

Here at our clinic, we also recommend laser hair removal, if the hair is appropriate for that treatment. Laser will remove the hair follicle’s ability to grow hair, which prevents the follicle from opening up and becoming vulnerable to the infection.

You can read more about our laser hair removal here.

Skin Tags

Skin tags are small bumps or “balls” of skin, sometimes connected to the skin by a stalk, called a peduncle.

They can occur at any age but get more common as we age, with estimates of up to half of adults being affected at some point.

They generally occur where skin rubs up against other skin, commonly armpits, groins, thighs, eyelids or under breasts, or where skin is repeatedly rubbing against clothing, such as necks and the heads of regular hat wearers.

Treatment for Skin Tags

Skin tags are harmless but can be both unsightly and annoying depending on where they appear. They are easily irritated, can become itchy, specially in summer, and can be flesh coloured or darker.

Over the counter treatments for skin tags do exist but we do not recommend them as they are unlikely to be helpful and may be quite caustic to surrounding skin, which will increase the discomfort of the area.

Here at our clinic, we have a very precise and effective laser that can vaporise very small and specific areas of the skin. It can be effective in removing skin tags quickly and with minimal pain. The healing is very quick and scaring is minimal or non-existent.

You can read more about ablative laser treatment here. 

Interested in any of these treatments? 

Why not make an appointment with our dermatologist, Dr Terence Poon, to have your skin reviewed and your questions answered. Call our friendly receptionists today to make your appointment on (02) 9953 9522.


Written by Dr Helena Torpinski.
Dr Helena is our specialist laser physician and works as a GP when she’s not in our clinic. She loves helping patients feel great in the skin their in.