Warts may disappear with beetle juice

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DEAR DR. GOTT: My son gets warts on his hands. His physician uses beetle juice treatments to kill the warts. We have had great success with it. It is a blistering liquid that is applied in the office and is much less painful than freezing. It burns a bit when the blisters begin to form but is much less invasive than surgery. It’s worth a try, especially with younger children.

DEAR READER: Warts are skin growths caused by infection from the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are several different forms, with the type being determined essentially by where it appears on the body and what it looks like. My guess is that your son has common warts (vurruca vulgaris) that often present on the fingers, backs of the hands, around nails, and even under the nose.

Warts can be spread from person to person simply through direct contact or by sharing a towel with an affected individual. Interestingly enough, it may be difficult to pinpoint a method of transmission since it can take several months before a wart is large enough to be seen.

Warts are more common in children and teens than they are in older individuals. Those with an increased risk at any age include individuals with a compromised immune system and in those who bite their nails or pull at hangnails. Warts can disappear without treatment; however, when they cause pain, when they become numerous or fail to disappear, a physician should be consulted.

Treatment varies and may consist of cryotherapy (freezing) for older children and adults. It has been found that this type of treatment may need to be repeated; electrosurgery (burning) in conjunction with curettage (scraping) with a knife or small spoon-shaped tool; excision that involves cutting the wart out; and cantharidin. This latter process which I believe is what you refer to paints the wart and covers it with a bandage, causing a blister to form under and lift the wart. When the blister dries which is generally within a period of about one week, the wart will be clipped away by the dermatologist. This method is not approved by the FDA for wart treatment but is used when salicylic acid or cryotherapy is ineffective. Note that this method should not be used on open wounds, birthmarks, moles, or on warts with hair growing from them. There are specific criteria your dermatologist will follow in relation to related medical conditions or locations on the body. When warts become difficult to eradicate, chemical peels, laser, immunotherapy or bleomycin may be attempted. When a wart appears rapidly following treatment, it is the result of virus cells being shed into the skin prior to treatment that allows new warts to grow around the original warts. The best method to counteract this is to have a dermatologist treat the new wart outbreak as soon as it appears.

On the home front, salicylic acid can be purchased without prescription. It is sold in liquid form, gel, or plaster pads. This method of treatment may take a substantial period of time to be effective. Then, too, there is the medically unproven duct tape method where a small patch of duct tape is applied directly to a wart and left in place for several days. It is then removed and the process is repeated until the wart (hopefully) disappears.

The long and short of it is, warts can re-appear at any time. To prevent them from spreading, refrain from picking at or scratching the areas. Wear water shoes when in public showers or pool areas and don’t have direct contact with warts on the skin of others.

Thank you for sharing your son’s success story. Perhaps you have helped others with this annoying condition.

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