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Wed, 16th April 2014

Warts are uncool, and kids hate them. So do adults, where they are not so common. They are caused by the wart virus, a microscopic fiend said to be transmitted by cats. Youngsters love cuddling the family puss. Just below the skin, it causes rapid dividing of superficial cells. With nowhere to go, they simply heap up and grow out, and a wart is born. They have nothing to do with frogs and pretty maidens and knights in shining armour or the midnight hour. Main issue is to eliminate them.

Most grown on the knees, fingers, and elbows. Even in this skeptical day and age, "psychotherapy" often works. If the child is told they will vanish, they often will. Other methods, using the same idea, are to rub them daily with a "farthing" (an old coin seldom seen) or other coin. Or cover them with a band-aid and inspect daily. With encouragement, they often vanish in a few days. Wishing them away, selling them to the postman are also old fashioned but successful methods. Childhood faith is essential. There are heaps of old time remedies. Such as cutting a 1 cm square of banana skin and placing the mush side inwards, then taping and changing daily. Natural enzymes are very powerful. Snap a milk thistle (often growing in the back yard), and apply often. Dandelion juice often helps.

Now, onto more traditional methods. Applying acetic acid gradually burns it off (let the doctor apply). Salicylic acid is also powerful. It is available in plasters like band aids and applied for a few days. Simple old adhesive plaster often works on its own. The doctors have various options. Such as cutting them off and cauterizing the base or using electro diathermy. This is uncomfortable and needs local anaesthetic and takes many days to heal. Laser therapy is also successful. As a child, I would chew them off. "Disgusting" mum would screech. However, the saliva probably contained wart virus antibodies and the ultra violet of the sun probably killed the bug. It invariably worked. Take your pick.



I love fresh figs but worry that it may be dangerous to eat the skin.


Commercially grown fruit should always be washed thoroughly to remove any traces of spray used to kill insects. It is supposed to be bio-degradable, but who really knows. Grown in your own back yard and non use of sprays is safe. Nutritionists say a lot of vitamins and minerals are located just beneath the skin. Include fruit every day in your food intake.

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Mum has been taking medication for her heart and blood pressure for years, and has a persisting cough which will not go away.


Re-dialogue with the doctor. A certain family of medication called the ACE inhibitors is notorious for causing a cough which hangs around. Today, there are many options in drug management, and there may be suitable alternatives. Also, nedocromil ("Tilade") often used by asthmatics can often bring quick relief from coughing. Discuss with your doctor.

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My seven year old daughter eats bananas but refuses other fruit. How can I encourage her to eat a wider variety.


Gentle persuasion is the best approach, rather than force. Gradually introduce little bits chopped up and disguised with others, ideally with the other children eating them too. Kids tend to mimic, and this includes siblings and eating habits. Some children refuse certain foods as their body rejects them - either from allergy or intolerance. But fruits usually do not come into this category.

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It worries me to see so many children walking around bare-footed. Aren't there inherent risks to this?


Sixty years ago walking around barefoot was common. Then it was due to lack of funds rather than fashion. Most kids suffered little inconvenience or injury. The soles often become tough, and can tolerate rough ground, roads and gravel. However, there is always a risk to cutting soles on sharp bits of metal, broken glass or probably an infected needle in some areas. Ideally, encourage them to wear foot gear when outdoors, even if a simple pair of thongs.

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My little fellow has just started to walk, and his toes seem to turn inwards. Does he need special boots?


The answer is No. The joints of the feet are very lax in early life, and turn this way and that. Except for very severe and obvious deformity, most do very well. With constant weight bearing, the ligaments tighten up and become strong, and can support the weight. Research carried out in developing countries indicates that youngsters with no shoes have particularly strong normal feet and legs as they grow up.

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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.



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