People's Pharmacy



I just read your column on plantar warts. My doctor suggested I use fingernail polish, covering the wart twice a day for three weeks. I believe the wart died within 10 days of doing that treatment. It was easy and painless. Have you ever heard of this, and do you know why it worked?

We've heard of using fingernail polish or instant glue on warts to "smother" them. We doubt if that is why it works, though, since the virus that causes warts doesn't need to breathe. Whatever the mechanism, this trick seems to be effective for some people. Anyone who tries it should be careful to keep the nail polish only on the wart and not on healthy skin.

I suffer from restless leg syndrome, which is aggravated now that I am recovering from foot surgery and am immobilized. A friend suggested I take potassium and magnesium. This cured my RLS, but it affected my sleep. I have vivid dreams and am sleeping eight to nine hours per day instead of seven. Are there other side effects I should know about?

We have heard from others that magnesium promotes sleep and may help RLS. Perhaps the additional sleep accounts for your vivid dreams. Magnesium is not appropriate for people with kidney disease. One side effect everyone should know about with magnesium is that too much can cause diarrhea. Potassium supplements should be taken only under medical supervision. They can interact with some blood pressure medications.

One person wrote you that he takes vitamin C pills to protect him from the sun. I mix vitamin C powder with hot water to dissolve it, let it cool, then put it on my skin. It works a whole lot better than any commercial product. And it is cheaper. It washes off in water, though, so protection while swimming or sweating is a problem.

While we appreciate your vitamin C approach to sun protection, we think it is also important to use an effective sunscreen. Products that contain zinc or titanium create a physical barrier against the sun's rays. Brands include Blue Lizard (Sensitive Skin), emerginC Sun and Total Block. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved Anthelios SX, which contains ecamsule (Mexoryl). This compound blocks ultraviolet A radiation, which causes premature aging and skin cancer, as well as ultraviolet B, which causes sunburn. Even with effective sunscreens, it is important to stay out of direct sunlight during the middle of the day (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

I just received a shipment of Zocor tablets in the mail, and it sat in a hot mailbox, probably 150 degrees, for hours. Would this harm Zocor?

The manufacturer (Merck) recommends storing Zocor between 41 and 86 degrees F. Chemical analysis might be needed to tell whether the drug was harmed. Your story points out a potential problem with mail-order pharmacies.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site:

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