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Persistent plantar warts defy treatment

Q. My husband has terrible plantar warts. They have been frozen multiple times by a dermatologist. Acid patches ate away at his healthy skin, but not the warts.

The warts have spread and are practically covering his entire heel. We are at a loss. Is there any remedy to get rid of these warts once and for all?

A. Plantar warts occur on the toes or soles of the feet and can be quite painful. Treatment is not always successful, as you have discovered.

Readers have shared remedies that include turmeric paste, duct tape or banana peel on the wart. The turmeric powder is mixed with a little olive oil, applied to the wart and covered carefully with tape. The socks you wear may become stained, so don’t use your best pair. Change the turmeric daily.

To use banana peel, cut a piece of the peel to the size of the wart and tape it to the foot, with the inner side of the peel against the wart. This, too, is changed daily; some people wear it only at night.

Any of these remedies may take up to six weeks, so be patient. Another approach is the oral heartburn drug Tagamet (cimetidine), taken twice daily.

Q. My mother-in-law was hospitalized twice this winter for a weak heart. The hospital was very aggressive in treating her diabetes, although we repeatedly told them that she is better off with blood sugar a little higher than “normal.”

Then she was in a nursing home for three months for rehab, and again they were aggressive with diabetes management, although we again insisted that a higher-than-normal glucose level was normal for her.

Twice she was sent back to the hospital when her blood sugar crashed, once down to 43 and the second time to 25. They were giving her too much diabetes medicine despite our requests.

Now she is in assisted living but completely confused. Could the low blood sugar episodes have affected her brain?

A. A recent study (JAMA Internal Medicine online, June 10, 2013) reveals that episodes of hypoglycemia (severe low blood sugar) double the risk for dementia. Your mother-in-law’s blood sugar was far too low.

Trying to keep blood glucose within narrow limits increases the likelihood of a hypoglycemic crash. This is especially worrisome in older people. We are sending you our Guide to Managing Diabetes with more details on monitoring blood sugar and a variety of ways to control it. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (66 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. DM-11, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.

Q. I have two friends who have developed severe red-meat allergies, one of whom was told by his doctor that it was likely tick-bite-related. What can you tell us about this?

A. The condition your friends have developed is called “alpha-gal allergy.” It is triggered by a reaction to a tick bite (Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology online, June 5, 2013).

Eating beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, venison or buffalo meat can result in a delayed anaphylactic response (three to six hours later). Read more about this mysterious but potentially life-threatening allergy on our website, www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Children are increasingly susceptible and may be hard to diagnose.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their Web site: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”


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