The People’s Pharmacy answers questions about preventing plantar warts, Sea-Bands for better sleep, and cucumbers for digestion.
Q: I’ve been plagued with plantar warts for most of my adult life. I got rid of the most recent one by treating it persistently with salicylic acid.
Now I want to prevent re-infection. This is a virus, isn’t it? How long will it live in my slippers and shoes, and cause recurrence? Should I buy a box of bandages and apply them on the soles of my feet for a month to protect myself?
A: Instead of bandages, try clean socks every day. That’s the advice the Mayo Clinic offers, and it makes sense to us.
Plantar warts appear on the soles of the feet. They are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Why some people are more susceptible than others remains a medical mystery. Genetics and immune function probably play key roles.
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Recommendations for preventing recurrences include not going barefoot in locker rooms or around swimming pools. Wash your hands after you touch a wart.
We have collected many home remedies for plantar warts. They include applications of tincture of iodine, tea tree oil and turmeric in olive oil to the wart. Some people report success taping a banana peel (fleshy side on the skin) to the wart overnight. Others say that soaking the foot in hot salty water for 30 to 90 minutes a week is also helpful. Read more details in our book “Quick and Handy Home Remedies” (www.PeoplesPharmacy.com).
Q: I read in your column about a mother who purchased Sea-Bands for her son who had trouble sleeping. These elastic wrist bands are sold to counteract nausea and motion sickness, but they helped her son sleep.
Having had trouble sleeping myself, I bought a pair of Sea-Bands and tried them out. They worked the first night and have kept on working.
Of course, I know this quick remedy won’t work for all insomniacs. I told my doctor about it, and he shrugged and said nothing. But I hope that others will try it and benefit.
A: Sea-Bands are elastic wrist bands with an embedded plastic button that is supposed to be placed over an acupressure point. For getting to sleep, the point is called the Inner Gate. It is located between the two tendons on the inner side of the wrist, about three finger widths from the crease where the hand meets the wrist.
A review of four studies on acupressure suggests that this technique can improve sleep for some people (Sleep Medicine Reviews, February 2018).
Q: In the past few years, I’ve had more or less continual constipation, meaning big, hard BMs that are tough to pass. Recently, a gardener friend gave me a slew of cucumbers. Voilà! As long as I eat a few cucumbers each day, the BMs, while still large, pass comfortably and promptly.
I found no mention on your site of this property of cucumbers, and I thought you would be interested. It’s much better than Power Pudding.
A: We don’t know whether this will work for other people with constipation, but cucumbers certainly are safe. Normally, we think of fiber-rich foods as a good way to combat constipation. While cucumbers aren’t particularly high in fiber, they do contain some, and they are full of water, which also might be helpful. You may be interested in our radio show No. 1115, an interview with Dr. Robynne Chutkan on how you can conquer constipation. You can listen at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.