I am a 26-year-old mother of two. About two years ago I developed a first verruca (my dermatologist called it a yabelet in Hebrew) on one finger. He removed it with nitrogen spray (although it took about two weeks to disappear). It came back and now appears on several fingers. He said I have to return to him every month for the same spray treatment, which doesn't completely eliminate the wart. What causes this on the fingers? Is it infectious? Do I reinfect myself, and is there a possibility that I would infect others, including my children, by touching them? And most important, is there any way to get rid of them for good?
- M.I., Jerusalem
Dr. Julian Schamroth, a veteran Jerusalem dermatologist, comments:
A verruca is a common wart that often occurs on the fingers and hands. Common warts are caused by infection with human papillomavirus, of which there are dozens of subtypes. Other subtypes can cause cervical and other cancers; the one that causes verrucas on the fingers is harmless but annoying. They are especially common in children and spread by direct contact in which the virus is implanted into the skin from someone else or from oneself. If the wart is scratched, the virus may spread to another area of the infected person's own skin, so don't scrape them with a nail file, for example. However, your verrucas are unlikely to be very infectious to others, as they have a low infectivity rate, and most people who have previously been infected with warts have probably developed an immunity to the condition.
It could take as long as a year after initial infection for the wart to disappear. In children, even without treatment, half of warts go away spontaneously, without treatment, within half a year and 90 percent within two years. They are more persistent in adults, but they clear up eventually, usually within two years. However, they are more numerous and may persist much longer for people who have weak immune systems. Some people don't bother to treat them because treatment can be more uncomfortable and troublesome than the warts. However, since they may be painful, look ugly and cause embarrassment, many people want treatment. There are various treatments including chemical treatments that "eat away" at the wart, laser therapy as well as electrosurgery. But the standard treatment is cryotherapy (freezing the wart tissue), in which a dermatologist uses liquid-nitrogen spray. Care must be taken not to leave a scar. The treatment may have to be repeated several times.
About seven in 10 warts disappear this way. Success is in the order of 70 percent within four months of cryotherapy. None of the methods has a 100% success rate, and new warts or even the original one may reappear months or years later. If you have had several cryotherapy treatments, but the warts keep coming back and bother you, I would suggest several repeat treatments (perhaps eight to 10) to try to get rid of them, but if not, they will go away by themselves with time.
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich reports:
A few weeks ago, a reader asked where she could donate unneeded used prescription eyeglasses. This column received many responses from readers:
â€¢ All branches of Yad Sarah
â€¢ The Library for the Visually Impaired at the Jerusalem branch of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (Rehov Pinsker 11) is collecting used eyeglasses for new immigrants and other needy people in the Negev in coordination with Ben-Gurion University. They can be brought to the library or left off at the AACI reception desk.
â€¢ Dr. Gary Roth at the Samuel Bliss Eye Clinic/Casper Medical Clinic in Jerusalem's Ramat Eshkol neighborhood (Sderot Eshkol 14) collects them. He can be reached at 050-733-2204 or e-mailed at email@example.com.
â€¢ Optica Halperin says it collects old eyeglasses at its branches around the country and is able to redistribute them to the needy.
â€¢ The Conservative Movement's United Synagogue Fuchsberg Center at Rehov Agron 8 in Jerusalem is collecting glasses. Give them to Suzanne at the front desk, call (02) 625-6386 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
â€¢ Janet Agassi of Ra'anana, who is a member of the Israel branch of the Lions international volunteer organization, says she collects old eyeglasses that are shipped and recycled for the needy in Africa and other poor regions. She is coordinating the Recycle for Sight project in Israel and can be reached at (054) 667-8097 or e-mailed at email@example.com. She accepts both prescription glasses and non-prescription sunglasses that are cleaned and classified according to prescription and size by volunteers in developing countries. Children's glasses are especially needed.
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org, giving your initials, age and residence.