Montana Public Radio

Dr. Starbuck Explains: Myths And Facts About Warts

Feb 18, 2020

Hi! I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck, a naturopathic family physician. I’m here today with health tips for kids about: warts!

You probably know what warts are – round, fleshy, bumpy lumps on your hands or knees or feet or fingers. They’re not dangerous and they don’t hurt, but most people don’t like them because we don’t like how they look.

(Toad sounds) That sounds like a toad doesn’t it? What are toads doing on my program about warts?

There is a myth that if you touch a toad, you’ll get warts. That’s because toads have lumpy bumps that look like warts on their skin.

Dogs and skunks and a few animals like to eat the toads. When they lick the toads they have a lot of drool or saliva in their mouths and they don’t really want to lick it again.

It’s a good idea to not lick a toad – since toads probably don’t taste too good and licking them isn’t very nice for the toad. But you won’t get warts from touching a toad. In fact, observing toads and noticing just how cool they are is good for your brain and your happiness, and your overall health.

Doctors aren’t entirely sure why some kids get warts and some kids don’t, but we do know that you will not get warts from touching a toad – or a frog. Warts are a virus, and kids get them like they get a cold, from somehow contacting that wart virus on door handles or gym equipment or shoes or shower floors. Wart viruses like to hang out in warm, moist places and they can live in the skin near a little cut or scrape. Protecting yourself from warts is just one more reason that kids should wash their hands a couple times a day, especially before eating. You should also wash any cuts or scrapes with warm water and soap as soon as you can.

There are also lots of funny myths about how to treat warts. One of my favorites is that you can cure your warts by blowing on them nine times while standing outside in the light of a full moon. As a doctor, I must tell you that this will not cure your warts – but I do think it might be a pretty fun thing to do!

No, there are only a few medicines that really work to cure warts, because warts are tricky. They like hanging out with humans and they seem to have their own schedule for visiting us.

A natural medicine that I prescribe for warts is cedar oil. Your parents can buy it in a store. You put one drop of cedar oil right on top of the wart, and cover it with a band aid. Do this twice a day for three weeks. If after three weeks, the wart is no smaller, the cedar oil probably won’t work. But if the wart is smaller, keep doing the cedar oil treatment until your wart is gone.

Another natural medicine that I use for warts is freezing. I have a little tool that sprays freezing, cold air right on to the wart. The wart turns white, then the white melts away. You might think that nothing is any different, but the cold, cold air kills the virus in the wart and within a week or so, the wart begins to shrink. Depending on the size of your wart, you might have to get a freezing treatment once a week for several weeks. Don’t worry, freezing treatment doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t make you bleed; it’s just super cold for a few seconds.

The most important thing about warts is to be kind about them. Don’t make fun of kids who have warts and don’t be mean to yourself if you have them. Meanness will not make warts disappear, but kindness makes us stronger and healthier. Being kind just might help chase warts away!

I want to say thanks to my friend Tule for her help with toad sounds and toad information.