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People’s Pharmacy: How did aspirin vanquish warts?

By Joe Graedon, M.S., and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D. King Features Syndicate

Q. You’ve written about burning off warts from a person’s fingers. As a young man, I had a lot of warts. My father taught me how to get rid of them so that they would not return.

He put a damp chunk of aspirin on the wart and covered it with a bandage. When the aspirin dried out, we did it again and again until the wart and its root came away with the adhesive. It left a little divot which healed up, and no wart returned. This was not painful at all.

A. Your father’s wart remedy has some science behind it. Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid. It is what pharmacologists call a salicylate-based drug. Many over-the-counter wart remedies such as Compound W Wart Remover or Dr. Scholl’s Liquid Wart Remover contain salicylic acid, a closely related compound.

These topical treatments are considered keratolytics. That means they break down the thick layer of wart tissue. That’s why they must be applied carefully so as not to irritate healthy tissue.

Aspirin may be a bit strong for such use. You will find lots of other intriguing wart remedies, from banana peel and duct tape to turmeric or vinegar, in our book “The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.” If you don’t find it in your local library, you can purchase this paperback book in the store at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. In addition, it contains hundreds of other treatments for common ailments.

Q. Please address breakthrough bleeding for postmenopausal women. I experienced this in December after my first Moderna booster in October. I had an ultrasound, a biopsy and a D&C (only after a pregnancy test – at age 74). My gynecologist could not tell me why I was bleeding again or what to expect.

I just read that 66% of the postmenopausal women in a COVID-19 vaccine study experienced this. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not seem to appreciate that bleeding in a woman’s 70s would cause any female concern! We shouldn’t have to choose between COVID-19 and alarming side effects.

A. We can certainly understand why you were upset. Vaginal bleeding after menopause can be a sign of a serious problem such as fibroids, or in a few cases, uterine cancer. You were right to ask the doctor to check you.

When COVID-19 started, nobody knew what effects the vaccine might have on menstruation. Scientists have since learned that vaccination can alter the cycle for a few months, without affecting fertility. (COVID-19 infections may have a more severe and persistent effect.) The study you cite was conducted as a web-based survey (Science Advances, July 15, 2022). While 66% of the postmenopausal people in the survey reported bleeding after vaccination, that does not represent the proportion of people receiving vaccines who shared your experience.

In fact, another study looked at this question in a different way. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente reviewed the medical records of nearly 500,000 women at least 55 years of age (American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, July 11, 2022). Prior to vaccination, 0.39% had postmenopausal bleeding. Afterward, 0.47% experienced this. The authors write: “However, in absolute numbers, the observed increase represents fewer than 1 in 1,000 additional women diagnosed with bleeding after vaccination compared to before vaccination.”

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32803, or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”

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