During pregnancy, it is common to develop what appear to be warts on your neck… But actually, they are not warts; the correct term for these small, soft bumps is acrochordons or skin tags.
Today, I will tell you more about acrochordons, why they appear during pregnancy, and how they differ from common warts.
What are acrochordons?
In the mirror, you can see acrochordons as small elongated elevations, soft to the touch, and usually a little darker than your skin tone.
They look very similar to warts caused by HPV, hence many people confuse them and call acrochordons “warts”. Only certified dermatologists can distinguish them at a glance.
Microscopically, acrochordons or skin tags are composed of a considerable number of collagen fibers, associated with small blood vessels and surrounded by a thin layer of skin.
The main difference between them and warts is that acrochordons are not contagious. That is, a person could come into contact with them and not develop them, which does happen with warts caused by HPV.
Why do warts appear on the neck?
Skin tags are benign, generally do not cause health problems, and their appearance during pregnancy is usually not a cause for concern.
It is still not known for certain why they appear, but it is believed that your hormones have a lot to do with it. That is why they are so common during pregnancy, as you experience significant hormonal changes during gestation.
On the other hand, the manifestation of acrochordons in non-pregnant women or men could indicate some health problems, as they are related to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and overweight.
Likewise, excessive sweating and prolonged use of corticosteroids are also related to the formation of these bumps.
In any case, upon their appearance, it is advisable to see a doctor, not only for a differential diagnosis but also to evaluate the possible causes of their appearance.
It is important to note that, although in this article we focus mainly on their appearance on the neck, acrochordons can also appear in other areas where there is generally friction, such as the groin, eyelids, chest, armpits, and inner thighs.
What does it mean to get warts on your neck during pregnancy?
Upon noticing these bumps that seemingly are warts, it is normal to immediately think of the human papillomavirus.
But actually, the formation of warts on the neck due to HPV is very uncommon. Any bump in the area should primarily be suspected to be an acrochordon.
And, as I mentioned earlier, during pregnancy, these acrochordons do not indicate a pathological state at all, they are simply the result of the normal hormonal changes you experience during gestation.
What happens if I get warts while pregnant?
If these “warts” are on your neck or in any of the other areas mentioned above, then it is most likely that they are not warts, but skin tags, so there is no need to worry.
On the other hand, if the bumps appear in other areas, such as the genitals, then it is more likely that it is an infection by the human papillomavirus.
In this case, you should also not be alarmed, but you should be aware that these warts are contagious, and even your baby could be infected, in what is known as vertical transmission of HPV.
What is the best way to remove neck warts?
Generally, acrochordons are neither treated nor removed unless they cause discomfort, which is not usual because normally, they should not hurt, itch, or bother. Their presence is usually mainly an aesthetic problem.
If you have acrochordons on your neck, it is recommended to avoid wearing chains and clothes that cover the neck, such as scarves or “turtlenecks”. This is to prevent discomfort due to friction.
If the doctor deems it appropriate, these neck bumps can be removed with laser, cryotherapy, or directly with surgical excision.
But this is only done in cases where the skin tags change in size or color, cause discomfort, or are in areas where friction is inevitable; the neck is not one of them.
Pharmacological treatment used for common warts is discouraged, especially during pregnancy. These drugs are not used because they simply have no efficacy on acrochordons, and also, most are contraindicated in pregnant women.
Usually, acrochordons disappear on their own after childbirth. Postpartum hormonal stabilization brings with it the disappearance of these wart-like bumps.
It is not necessary to take special measures to remove them. Beyond avoiding damaging them with clothing, there is no need for a specific diet or lifestyle changes to treat them.
Lastly, natural treatments are also not advised, as if not applied correctly, they could damage the acrochordons, which could even get infected, making the remedy worse than the disease.
Are neck warts during pregnancy dangerous for the baby?
No, the “warts” on the neck do not pose a danger to the health of the mother or the baby on the way.
Now that you know they are not warts but acrochordons, which are very common during pregnancy and appear due to hormonal changes, you can be more at ease.
Shortly after having your baby, you will see how they disappear. If they do not disappear, or if they bother or change in shape, size, or color, remember to consult your doctor for a respective evaluation.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Amy Wilson. Dr. Amy Wilson, born in the United States, obtained her medical degree from Lincoln University School of Medicine. Specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, she’s dedicated 15 years to women’s health, becoming a distinguished gynecologist and serving in various U.S. medical institutions.