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Warts and Molluscum

Warts are viral growths that look like small scaly patches on the hands and feet. Children often have one or two of these dermatological extrusions, sometimes a few more. Other wart-like lesions known by the ugly name of molluscum contagiosum are small, hard bumps with a white head. Molluscum can either be single
or in the hundreds, and they can appear anywhere on the body. As viral growths, they are slightly contagious from child to child, but adults rarely get them.

Both warts and molluscum are painless, but as with everything else that sticks out, kids tend to pick at them and make them bleed slightly, spread locally, or even become infected.

By far the best treatment for these intruders is to leave them alone and let the body’s natural defenses take over. If you’re patient enough, they always go away on their own, and they won’t spread all over the body. Generally, they vanish within a few months but can take as long as a year or two. The same is true of molluscum, except that these might spread whether you treat them or not. The advantage of the laissez-faire approach is that the lesions disappear painlessly and without irritation or scarring. The next option is to have your doctor freeze them off with one or two applications of liquid nitrogen. The process is slightly painful, and worse, satellite warts can spring up around the site of the initial one, which means that the virus under the skin was not quite dead yet.

Drugstores also sell over-the-counter preparations that promise to make warts disappear within a few weeks if you file the lesions down and apply the compound daily. I don’t recommend these approaches, because they are relatively inefficient, they irritate the skin around the wart, and, like freezing, they may induce satellite lesions.

You’ll love this last one: The final solution for warts may come from your local hardware store. Some anecdotal reports suggest that applying plain duct tape to warts every day speeds up their disappearance considerably. You can try it, but please don’t quote me on this one.

In Summary
Warts are a nuisance but no more than a nuisance. When located in areas where they are bothersome or could easily become irritated, have them frozen and removed by a doctor. Otherwise, let nature take care of them in due time.