Warning: This post is yet another disgusting peek into the world of gross ailments. (Did you read about my recent encounter with Shingles?) There's just no prettying up a story about WARTS. As they say, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. Plus, now you've exposed yourself to hogwarts (that pun's gonna kill with the Harry Potter crowd).
So yes, you might gag reading this (I threw up in my mouth twice searching for images), but at least you'll be prepared to thwart any warts that come your way.
FYI—if you're a parent chances are good you'll be waging "wart war" at some point between nursery school and high school graduation.
Fact—All warts are caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) however warts may vary in appearance and develop in different areas of the body.
Common Warts—unsightly yes, but relatively harmless. They usually appear on fingers, hands, elbows and knees. They can take anywhere from six months to two years to go away on their own. My daughter had one on her knee that took ages to go away. I worried about that. I guess that makes me a wart worry wart. If you spot a small, hard, grey, pink or brown bumpy (like cauliflower) bump, that may have black pepper-like specks in it (note to self: do not make seasoned roasted cauliflower for dinner ever again), then it's probably a wart.
Flat Warts—tiny and flat, they often appear on the face but can crop up anywhere and possibly in a cluster.
Filiform Warts—I just watched a You Tube video about these skin coloured finger-like projections (think skin tags on speed) which I can never unsee. But like common warts, they are benign and treatable. I think these are the kind of warts that witches get on the end of their noses. Poor witches.
Plantar Warts— hard and grainy, they usually grow on the pressure points on the bottom of the foot. They can sometimes grow inward, under a callus. Because you're walking on them, they can be umcomfortable and sometimes downright painful. I always assumed they looked like the cute little Plantar's Peanut guy until I did some research. They don't. Not even close. Do NOT watch a video called "Extreme Warts." I may never walk barefoot again.
Genital Warts— I'd prefer to skip over this category completely. Go ahead and Google these yourself because I'm done. I will say these highly contagious sexually transmitted venereal warts are caused by a strain of HPV different from the one responsible for the aforementioned warts. If you have teenagers, talk to them about these and all forms of STDs. Feel free to illustrate your point with this photo.
It's not possible to totally ward off warts, but diligent hygiene like hand washing with soap and water and properly cleaning open wounds (*holk*) like cuts and scrapes—the virus loves an easy entry point—can go a long way. The wart virus can be transmitted by touching anything (especially damp things like towels) that has been handled by a somebody sporting a wart.
Since the wart virus enjoys a moist environment, shower shoes in public places are a must. I swear the public change room at our local pool is where my daughter contracted the pesky wart that won't quit.
If you have a wart, try not to pick at it (*double holk*) or scratch it because it can spread to other part of your body or to your mother's body (I prevented this by cleansing like Meryl Streep in Silkwood every time I came near my daughter's gnarly knee wart).
They say that warts will eventually peter out on their own without treatment. But, if they bleed, ooze pus, cause pain, or cluster out of control, don't wait! Run, don't walk (well, do the best you can if you have Plantar Warts) to see your doctor. My daughter's wart was around so long we actually named it. Walter didn't bother my child, but he bothered me because:
b) I was concerned that his tenacity implied there was something wrong with her immune system (there isn't)
From medical methods and shaman sure things to urban legends and natural remedies, what are your options? I can't speak to all the cures because we haven't tried them all, but I can tell you what did and didn't work for us.
First Attempt: An over-the-counter medication like Compound W. These treatments (we used the pre-soaked Band-Aid version) contain acids that are applied to the wart. We used a pumice stone to remove some of the dead warty skin cells prior to applying the treatment. DO NOT use these chemicals on the face or genitals. This method requires patience and time. It didn't work for us at all. I swear I saw Walter (the wart) laugh and flip me the bird one night. Also, the pumice stone? A bloody nightmare. Literally.
Second Attempt: Duct tape. We covered the wart with a strip of duct tape and changed it every couple of days. I don't know how it's supposed to work exactly. Something about suffocating it? We tried, but it wasn't successful. Have you dear reader had any luck with this technique??
Third Attempt: Cryosurgery. Our family doctor attempted to freeze the f*cker with liquid nitrogen. This is done in the doctor's office. This treatment worked and didn't work. Apparently burning skin with a chemical is painful so the second the swab touched Walter, Avery screamed and jolted. The doctor was only able to apply a fraction of the chemical to the wart. However, it seemed to do the trick. Within a few weeks, the wart was gone.
What I would do differently NEXT TIME would be to apply an anesthetic patch (we use the EMLA patches you can buy over the counter at the drugstore. They're about $5) to the area ahead of time to numb the skin. That way I can distract my child away from what the doctor is doing which would buy her enough time to fully coat the wart. Good-bye Walter.
Here are some other methods we never tried but that people swear by. If you've tried any of these and have any comments or suggestions, please share in the comment section below. Maybe if we share this post enough, it'll go viral! Get it? Sorry. Lame wart virus joke.
Laser surgery. This is often recommended for stubborn warts. Within a few days of treatment by a doctor, a small wart will usually fall off. Lasting results may require more than one treatment.
A Topical Tropical Solution. Apply fresh pineapple directly to the wart several times a day. The natural acids and enzymes will help kill it.
The Vampire Cure. Mix crushed fresh garlic with water and apply to the wart. Cover with a bandage and re-apply every few hours until the wart is history.
Tea Tree Oil. Due to its antibacterial germ-fighting capabilities, it is known to help treat skin conditions including warts. Apply directly to the wart, then cover with the bandage. Repeat until the wart is gone.
Somebody also told me that aloe vera is a good natural wart remedy. Anyone?
*Number of times I typed the word WARTS in this post? 52. Gross.
Yes those are actual wart bullet points above. Why? Because if parents can't laugh at warts we're in trouble because children are super loveable, but super gross.
If you invite my daughter with special needs to a party she'll RSVP a resounding YES in giggles and jumpy claps and possibly a high kick. Her desire to connect with other humans, kids or adults (she's not picky) is one of the reasons we entertain often and host a lot of craft/baking/holiday theme parties at our house. She isn't invited to many parties, so we bring the party to her!
When my girlfriend invited Avery to her kids' birthday she circled the date on the calendar and literally counted down the days. She told everyone at school/at the grocery store/in her dance class/anybody within earshot, that she was going to a party.
When we arrived at the party and Avery said hello to her friends I could already see the confusion spread across the new kids' faces. Friends who know Avery understand that she is different. They honestly don't care. I wonder if they even notice anymore? They love and accept her and they're patient when she can't find the words. I totally get that people who have never met my special girl struggle to figure her out.
My child doesn't have any immediately recognizable physical traits to identify her as a person with special needs. She's physically atypical. So when this nine year-old speaks to you in a speech pattern of a much younger child, it's confusing. And when she touches you or hugs you or stands too close, it might come across as an invasion of your personal space. She's also very petite which might lead you to believe she's much younger than she is.
So I understand that when you meet my daughter for the first time, you might have questions.
I know it, but I'm not always emotionally prepared for it.
When one of the little girls at the party took a pronounced step back from Avery who was trying to get a closer look at the sparkles on her pretty party dress, I stepped in. I can't help it sometimes. To put newbies at ease I smooth things over by explaining without outright explaining. So I'll say, "That's really a pretty dress isn't it Avery? You have a sparkly dress like that too, don't you?" And then I'll engage the friend in conversation and find some common ground by saying something like, "Where did you get your dress? It's really pretty. Avery's favourite colour is purple too." Annnnnnnnd, discuss.
I know that my child can speak for herself. In fact, despite her delayed speech, she's a chatterbox.
I also know that she doesn't always need me to facilitate. But sometimes the other kid — the uncomfortable one — needs a little help.
When the partiers gathered around the table to await the birthday cake, there weren't enough chairs so some kids shared. I asked one of the girls to scootch over so Avery could sit beside her. The girl obliged but when I turned my back, she jumped up and moved two seats over. Apparently she was more comfortable squishing three to a seat, than sitting with the different girl.
One of the boys at the table was whispering, loudly, the way kids do. The girl beside him said, "She said she was nine but she can't be." He whispered back, "What grade do you think she's in?"
"WHY DON'T YOU JUST ASK HER WHAT GRADE SHE'S IN? SHE'S SITTING RIGHT THERE!" I snapped.
There was a sharp edge to my voice.
The boy looked surprised at my outburst, but he only shrugged and then asked her, "So what grade are you in?"
"I in grade four. My brother is in grade seven." she answered smiling. (Her brother wasn't at the party, but she always includes him anyway.)
My friend knew something was up when I turned down a slice of ice-cream cake.
When I told her what happened she was angry on my behalf and she scowled in Avery's defense. But Avery was fine and was happily sporting a chocolate ice-cream mustache, totally oblivious. She doesn't notice when people are talking about her. But knowing her, if she did, she wouldn't care. She marches to the beat of her own drummer and could give two shits what you think of her. God, I wish I was more like that.
After nearly a decade of parenting a special kid, I've gotten into a groove. Today I was off my game.
NORMALLY in a situation like this, as the kids took their seats at the table I would have casually leaned in and laid a blanket statement over the table before the cake came out. I'd have said something like, "Hey kids. This is M and J's (the party hosts) friend Avery. Some of you might not know her. Just so you know, she has a bit of trouble with her speech, so if you have trouble understanding her, just ask me and I can help. She's nine and she's in grade four at XYZ Public School. Avery and I just came from her dance class. Anyone else take dance?" (or some other crowd specific conversation starter).
Usually this starts the kids talking and including my daughter in the conversation. But mostly, it pre-preemptively answers kid's questions and puts them at ease. And, it gives them permission to respectively ask questions.
But I didn't do it this time. Instead of advocating for my child properly using a tried and true method, I reacted emotionally.
The rest of the party was lovely. Avery played and partied and had loads of fun. She always does.
My friend apologized to me, but she obviously had nothing to be sorry for. Even the kids who distanced themselves from my child didn't need to apologize. It's human nature. We all try to figure each other out. And when we come across a new person who doesn't fit into our scope of understanding, we ask questions. And kids, who are not the most tactful (though adults can often be much, MUCH worse) can stumble. And when they do, it's my job as my daughter's mum, to step in to help.
I went to my doctor recently with six or seven red welts on my hip that I suspected were spider bites. (Thank you to my brother for putting that horrific thought into my head.) I also wondered if I could be allergic to my new jeans — specifically the dark wash that was dying my skin blue. My husband helpfully suggested the hives could be from “tight pants and all the rubbing.” He paid handsomely for that comment.
I assumed that when I lifted my shirt to expose the unsightly rash on my side muffin that my doctor would say, "That? Oh that's nothing. Just dry skin. Be on your way you adorable little hypochondriac."
Imagine my surprise when she told me I had SHINGLES!
"Are you kidding me?" I gasped. "What am I eighty?!"
Turns out my indignation was misplaced. The shingles virus is not exclusive to the elderly and infirm. Upon announcing my affliction on Facebook, as one does, I was surprised to find out how many of my young-ish peers have also suffered from this painful ailment.
One friend told me when she experienced shingles in her thirties the row of sores across her forehead earned her the charming nickname of, "Roof." Several other girlfriends, a neighbour, my mum, and the lady that clips my dog’s nails also shared that they suffered from shingles in their 30s or 40s. It’s nice to know you’re not the only one because nobody wants to be...shingled out. Sorry. Had to.
Anybody who's ever had chickenpox can get shingles. Even though it is more common in older people, shingles can develop at an earlier age. My nephew had it when he was only 11. A lesion near his eye was cause for concern. Shingles on the eye itself is called Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus, and it can cause scarring that can lead to vision loss. If you have sores near your eye, follow up with your doctor ASAP.
My daughter had shingles at the tender age of five. Poor kiddo had welts all over the right side of her face and chest. She'd never had true chickenpox, but did develop a few pox after getting the vaccine. If your child is acting out of sorts and has what looks like hives on one side of their body, have them examined because it could be shingles.
First you have to have had chickenpox. After you recover, the virus goes dormant and it may remain asleep in your nerve roots undisturbed forever. But in some people the virus wakes up when stress, illness, aging, certain drugs, or possibly a curse, weakens the immune system. When the virus wakes up it's no longer chickenpox. Instead it takes the form of chickenpox's ugly older sister, Shelley Shingles.
I hope you never have the opportunity to meet her because frankly, Shelley is a real pain in the ass (or hip, or face, or torso...).
Will you get shingles? Possibly. One in three North Americans will get shingles in their lifetime.
Caught early enough, oral antiviral medications can shorten the course of the infection and reduce the chances of possible long-term complications like PHN (severe and lingering pain along affected nerves).
Warning: The antivirals are BIG. I didn't know whether to swallow them or insert them.
If you have questions or concerns about shingles, please talk to a real doctor. I'm not a medical professional (which will become abundantly clear when you read my infographic below). However, I've been on the front lines and hopefully sharing my experience will, at the very least, make you aware of the the precursor symptoms so you get to the doctor faster. Treatment within 72 hours has been shown to minimize the extent and spread of the rash and lessen pain. As well, antivirals may help reduce the risk of developing chronic pain afterwards.
One final word of advice — something your doctor will not tell you — when you're at the pharmacy picking up your antiviral medication, also pick up a can or two of Pringles. No, they won't help you heal faster. But, the salt and the fact that you can call them your "Shingles Pringles" is a golden opportunity not to be missed.