People’s pharmacy

Q: I had fingernail warts for 19 years. The dermatologist first burned them electrically and then froze them with liquid nitrogen. He even tried acid. Nothing worked. The warts kept returning.

I finally decided to try a home remedy instead. I applied Vicks VapoRub under and around the nails and then wore rubber gloves to bed. It took a while, but now I have healthy hands.

A: Growths that form around or under nails are called periungual warts. Nail-biters are especially prone to develop these hard-to-treat lesions.

Dermatologists use a variety of techniques to treat periungual warts, including a laser procedure, surgery, acid applications or injections of a chemotherapy drug called bleomycin. All these approaches can be painful, however.

People have used Vicks VapoRub for all sorts of skin problems, including nail fungus, paper cuts, mosquito bites and dandruff. Yours is the first report we have received of success with Vicks for periungual warts. It may not work for everyone.

We offer a range of other wart remedies in our book “Quick and Handy Home Remedies,” available at

Q: I have Lyme disease that was originally misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia. I was put on Lyrica to help with the constant pain.

For a while I thought it was working, because if I accidentally skipped a dose, I felt like I was dying.

The awful pain, tremors, nausea and migraines I got when I didn’t take Lyrica were really a sign that I was totally dependent on it. I’m now working to slowly wean myself off. That will take a long time because I’m on a high dose. I’m relieved to know that the depression, irritability and restless legs I’m experiencing is just my body coming down from the Lyrica.

A: Pregabalin (Lyrica) has a reputation as a safe and well-tolerated treatment for nerve pain (neuropathy) and fibromyalgia. But readers have reported side effects such as dizziness, fatigue, confusion or brain fog, dry mouth and weight gain.

Stopping suddenly can trigger symptoms such as insomnia, headache, anxiety, nausea, excessive sweating and diarrhea. The official prescribing information specifies gradual tapering over at least a week. Some people may require a much slower withdrawal process.

Q: I recently had to see my doctor to get a prescription renewed. While I was there, I asked about getting a diabetes and cholesterol test. He said, “I can see just by looking at you that you don’t need those.”

I can’t help wondering whether his approach is a bit cavalier. Could he really tell by looking at me?

A: It is impossible to tell whether people have high cholesterol or elevated blood glucose just from the way they look. Even lean people who exercise can have diabetes or heart disease.

You can test yourself for either of these conditions. Consumer Reports On Health (September 2015) recommends the CheckUp America Cholesterol Panel test kit. It runs about $40 from Walgreens and provides total cholesterol, LDL and HDL cholesterol. You send the blood sample in, and results are returned in about three days.

For blood sugar, consider the up & up Blood Glucose Meter from Target or the ReliOn Micro from Wal-Mart. They run about $15, and a pack of test strips costs around $10.

Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their website: Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”

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