DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My 13-year-old son has a wart on his hand. In fact, he has two of them. They don’t bother him, but they bother me. If you neglect them, will they go away on their own? I’m not sure we can handle a doctor’s bill right now. How else can we get rid of them on the cheap? I’d like to find and grab by the neck whoever gave him these warts. — R.R.
ANSWER: Don’t bother looking for the person who passed the wart virus to your son. You’ll never find him or her. For one, some infected people show no signs of a wart, yet they can pass the virus to others. For two, the incubation period for a wart is two to six months. Do you think your son remembers who touched him six months ago?
The human papillomavirus is the cause of warts. More than 150 different varieties exist. Some warts are dangers to health. The ones that cause cervical cancer are examples, but that’s a topic for another day. The ordinary wart is passed by skin-to-skin contact. Your son ought to make an effort not to touch the wart to other parts of his body. He can transfer the virus in that way.
It’s OK to leave the warts alone. They disappear two out of three times, but their disappearance can take as long as two years.
For home wart treatment, you’ll find many wart removers on the counters of your local drugstores. DuoPlant, Compound W and Wart-Off are but a few names. Follow bottle directions carefully.
Duct tape — the duct tape found in hardware stores — has a mixed record as a wart remover. Apply tape to the warts and leave it in place for six days. You don’t need a huge amount of tape, just enough to cover the wart. On day six, remove the tape and have your son soak his hand in warm water. Then, with an emery board or pumice stone — both drugstore items — lightly rub the warts to remove as much of them as you can. Reserve these devices for wart treatment only. On day seven, reapply the duct tape. Continue the ritual, if need be, for eight weeks. If it hasn’t worked by then, it’s not going to.
The booklet on Pap smears discusses the relationship between genital warts and cervical cancer. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 1102W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow three to four weeks for delivery.
©2013 North America Synd.