What are seed warts?
Seed warts are small, benign skin growths that form on the body. They have distinct tiny spots or “seeds” that distinguish them from other types of warts. Seed warts are caused by a viral infection.
These infections are contagious, and can be bothersome. It’s important to understand how the infection passes from person to person, as well as what you can do to protect yourself.
What do seed warts look like?
People sometimes mistakenly call some warts "seed warts" because they have small black dots that resemble little seeds.
What are the symptoms of seed warts?
If you develop a skin lesion, it may be difficult to determine the type and cause. Seed warts are usually small and flesh-colored. They are hard or firm to the touch. The appearance of seed warts varies. Some warts are flat and others are raised, depending on their location.
The distinguishing feature of these warts is their tiny spots or “seeds.” These spots are small clotted blood vessels.
Seed warts can form on the bottom of your feet. For this reason, some seed warts flatten over time due to walking, standing, or running. These warts can also develop on the base of your toes or on your heels. In addition to causing tiny black spots and being firm, seed warts can also cause pain or tenderness if you walk or stand for an extended period.
What are the causes of seed warts?
Seed warts are a viral infection caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). This virus, which affects the superficial layer of skin, is a contagious virus and can spread from person to person through direct and indirect contact. If you have close physical contact with someone who has the virus, you may also develop a seed wart.
Because seed warts can appear on the bottom of the feet, the toes, and heel, you can also pick up the virus in public areas. These areas include swimming pools, changing rooms, and workout gyms.
A floor surface can become contaminated when a person with a seed wart walks across it barefoot. This allows the infection to spread to other people who walk barefoot on the same surface.
Although seed warts are contagious, they aren’t highly contagious. Coming in contact with an infected surface doesn’t mean that you’ll get the virus and develop warts.
Some people are at a higher risk for seed warts. These include people:
- with a history of warts
- with a weakened immune system
- who frequently walk barefoot
How to diagnose a seed wart
A doctor can usually identify a seed wart from its appearance. Your doctor may specifically check to see if the wart contains dark spots or blood clots.
If your doctor can’t identify the wart after a visual examination, the next step is to remove a section of the wart and send it to a lab for analysis. This can determine whether you have a seed wart or another type of skin lesion.
Developing a seed wart doesn’t typically require a visit to your doctor. However, you should see a doctor if you experience any bleeding or pain from the wart. Seed warts found on the bottom of the foot can cause intense pain. This pain can interfere with your daily routine if you’re unable to put pressure on your foot.
You can also see your doctor if the wart doesn’t improve or respond to treatment. Or if you’re concerned that the lesion isn’t a wart, but rather another skin disorder. Your doctor can confirm or rule out a seed wart.
What are the treatments for a seed wart?
Seed warts don’t usually require treatment and often go away on their own in time. In the meantime, there’s plenty of remedies to ease symptoms and potentially speed the healing process.
Wear comfortable shoes
Wear well-cushioned, comfortable shoes to reduce pressure on the bottom of your feet. This can relieve pain and make it easier to walk or stand. Also, stay off of your feet as much as possible until the pain subsides.
Try over-the-counter medications
Another option is over-the-counter medications containing salicylic acid (Compound W Freeze Off and Dr. Scholl’s Freeze Away). These medications freeze off warts and slowly break down a wart’s layers.
Cover with duct tape
Duct tape is another remedy for seed warts. This method gradually removes layers of the wart. To use this method:
- Cover the wart with a piece of duct tape, after a few days, remove the duct tape.
- Clean the seed wart and then reapply another piece of duct tape.
- Scrape away any dead, peeling skin with a pumice stone each time you remove the duct tape.
- Continue this process until the seed wart is gone.
See your doctor
For a hard-to-treat seed wart, your doctor may remove the wart using one of the following methods:
- excision (cutting off the wart with a scissors or scalpel)
- electrosurgery (burning off the wart with high-frequency electrical energy)
- cryotherapy (freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen)
- laser treatment (destroying the wart with an intense beam of light)
If your seed wart doesn’t respond to treatment, your doctor may suggest immunotherapy to strengthen your immune system so that it can fight the viral infection. You may receive an injection of interferon alfa (Intron A, Roferon A) to boost your immune system, or the topical immunotherapy diphencyprone (Diphenylcyclopropenone).
You can also talk to your doctor about getting the HPV vaccine if your seed wart doesn’t respond to treatment. This vaccine has been used to treat warts.
What is the outlook for seed warts?
Most seed warts go away with treatment. Even if you don’t seek treatment, the wart may eventually disappear, although there’s no way to know how long it’ll take to heal. After treating one seed wart, other warts can appear in or around the same spot. This can happen if the virus remains in your body.
To avoid spreading a seed wart to other parts of your body, don’t pick or touch the wart. If you apply topical medication to the wart, wash your hands afterwards. If you have a seed wart on the bottom of your foot, change your socks and wash your feet daily.