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.