Do you have warts?

Let’s lighten up for a moment. After all, it’s summer. We can talk about dentistry again in a few weeks. Let’s talk about a problem that I had and you may have as well, warts; those crusty, pesky, painful things that show up on hands, feet, and other parts of the body. And no, I’m not talking about genital warts.

Okay, so here’s the admission. I had warts. I had them for over 5 years. I froze them with home therapies. I had them frozen at the dermatologist’s office four different times. And I know I’m a dentist, and I’m not supposed to talk about pain, but let me tell you, freezing warts is more uncomfortable than anything that I do in my office. At least I get my patients numb. I wasn’t numb when that wad of cotton filled with liquid nitrogen was placed and held on my warts, one wart at a time. I had three. One of my warts had babies following one of the treatments, so I then had three warts where I had one, a total of 5 warts. I even went to a dermatologist in Orlando who had a fancy laser that’s made specifically to treat warts. You think the freezing was bad? The fancy laser felt like nails were being driven through my finger, again and again. And then he told me that he’d see me in four weeks, and we’d do it again. Yeah, right.

Oh yes, of course I tried the preparations you buy in the drug store. I used an emery board to shave the warts down before applying the medication which had a combination of salicylic acid and a glue to help it remain in place. It was like placing airplane glue on my fingers, but it didn’t smell nearly as good. (Now I know I’ll get letters from the anti glue-sniffing activists.) They still didn’t go away. On Sunday night, I developed a routine of shaving the crusty warts down with a safety razor so they wouldn’t look so ugly.

My daughter in law, Jenifer, had observed my wart battles. She worked at a hospital in Boston while my son was in dental school. She had a wart too. And she told me that secret just a few weeks ago. She went to the chairman of the department of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. You know what he told her? “Use duct tape. And make sure you use the brand-name duct tape, ‘Duck Duct Tape.’ It has a special glue.”

Who was I to argue? My warts were hurting more and more. I was using up razor blades at an ever increasing pace, and sometimes they’d bleed if I shaved them too deeply. And he’s the chairman at Harvard. Besides that, she’s my daughter in law. You have to listen to your daughter in law, don’t you?

Well, I listened to her. I found Duck Duct Tape. And to my pleasant surprise, it came in a number of colors. I bought three different colors; traditional silver, hospital white, and the Jimi Hendrix psychedelic color. I figured that one would go with my pink scrubs the best. You’ve seen my pink scrubs. If I’m wearing those, who would ever question 1970’s retro tape on my fingers.

Here’s what I found. The silver still sticks the best. The tie-dye color still produced questions. But the white? No one said a word.

I was good about wearing the duct tape 24 hours a day for three full weeks, changing the tape when it got wet and started peeling off. I had tape at my desk, in my car, and at home. I was prepared to retape whenever and wherever I was. And guess what? My warts are gone. That is well over 5 years of suffering over in three weeks.

Thanks go to Jenifer. I wonder what change in me she’s going to suggest next.

Lee N. Sheldon, DMD