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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Truths and Myths About Warts

 Once last summer I went with my family to the beach. We had a great time. This was a Tuesday. By Wednesday evening there was a tender spot on my foot. By Friday, it was becoming painful. It was kind of a slow day at work so my co-worker and I used our available resources to rule out a lot of things that it wasn't. My foot looked perfectly fine. I was beginning to think I had a acquired some exotic foot disease at the beach.  By Sunday evening, it hurt so much that I couldn't walk.
 First thing Monday morning I made an appointment to see a podiatrist. He looked at my foot with a magnifying glass and said "Hmm". Then he cut off a few layers of skin. "Hmm". Then he cut off a few more layers. After this he came to the conclusion that deep inside my  foot there was a cluster (or mosaic) of more than a dozen warts, which had nothing to do with our trip to the beach. I just thought it was a more pleasant picture than the warts on my foot.  Fantastic. Personally, I'd rather have an exotic foot disease.
  So while I was sitting there with my foot in the air and him cutting a hole in it, followed by him freezing those annoying little things, I tried to focus on something other than the pain by picking his brain. Here are a few things that I learned from the experience and one other run-in with warts years ago.
  • Warts are caused by a human papillomavirus. They are contagious. There are many varieties of this virus and they are specific to certain areas of your body. (The HPV that causes plantar warts is not the same HPV that can give you genital warts or cause cervical cancer.)
  • They can disappear on their own after a few months, last for years or reoccur.
  • Common treatment of warts include cutting, freezing, salicylic acid (that over-the-counter Dr. Scholl's stuff) and lasers.
  • When I had a stubborn wart removed in high school, a dermatologist injected it with Bleomycin. He described it to me as an acid that they inject into cancerous tumors. It's pretty expensive and it feels like hell. But it worked.
  • There is some validity to the urban myth that duct tape can get rid of warts. It's not as effective as previously listed methods, but my podiatrist told me that studies have shown evidence that it is sometimes effective.
  • Same story for painting a wart with fingernail polish. Although he said that the studies couldn't explain exactly why for either method.
  • For unknown reasons Cimetidine (yes, as in the OTC heartburn medicine) is very effective in helping your body to fight off and get rid of warts. I tried it and it did seem to help. Of course I did this at the same time I was having him treat with it with liquid nitrogen and the knife.
  • Sometimes the skin around the wart will turn purple a couple of days after freezing. I was concerned when a fairly large portion of my foot turned purple. I called his office. His receptionist was an idiot and told me she was sure that it was because I had my band-aid on too tight. I'm pretty sure that a bachelor's degree in nursing qualifies me to correctly place a few spot band-aids, and that wasn't the problem. When I talked to him, he let me know that sometimes that happens and not to be concerned.


  1. So, what you are telling me is that I had HPV as a kid??? I had tons of warts on my hands. How did I get rid of them??? Not duct tape, but that other kind of tape that's like yellow/beige in color. Why can't I think of the name? Anyway, IT WORKS LIKE A CHARM. I wore tape on my fingers all summer long and even at night. No air, no water, no sunlight...that's what kills the worts.

  2. Yep, you had HPV as a kid. Do you mean masking tape? I asked my doc if a lack of air, water, and light with the tape/polish is what killed them. He said it might have something to do with it, but it has to be more than that. The warts are still getting nourishment from your skin and the mosaic of plantar warts I had was so deep that it wasn't getting any air, water or light, yet still causing problems.

  3. What? No toads! I think there are a lot of myths out there about warts. I've had one on my knee that I've tried the Dr. Scholls stuff on and had a doctor freeze it off. It came back both times. It doesn't bother me though.

    Stopping by from MMB.