Af­flic­tions of the flesh

The Compass - - Editorial - Harold Wal­ters My Im­per­fect Slant Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­[email protected]

Can you say se­b­or­rheic ker­ato­sis?

B’ys, don’t even bother try­ing. Be as­sured though that han­dling jel­ly­fish doesn’t cause it. Speak­ing of jel­ly­fish …

In the hal­cyon days of my bay­boy youth, I han­dled plenty of jel­ly­fish. Now Mr. Google tells me that isn’t why half-a-hand­ful of my fin­gers once sprouted warts — wirts, as Granny called them.

Nope, not jel­ly­fish. A hu­man pa­pil­lo­mavirus caused my warts. Pa­pil­lo­mavirus!

I’d just as soon jel­ly­fish were the cause.

So, it was a bumper crop of pa­pil­lo­mavirus warts, not jel­ly­fish warts that caused me to fail Grade 9 ge­om­e­try.

“Harry, my wart-free love,” said Dear­est Duck, “how did warts cause you to fail ge­om­e­try?”

“My Duck,” said I, “I’m glad you asked.”

Specif­i­cally, a sin­gle wart the size of a small cau­li­flower on my left mid­dle fin­ger caused my fail­ure. In ge­om­e­try classes, in­stead of be­ing an at­ten­tive scholar — draw­ing tri­an­gles, cal­cu­lat­ing an­gles — I used the nee­dle end of the com­pass from my ge­om­e­try set to root at my wart. I dug at that shag­ger’s roots un­til they bled.

“That’s dis­gust­ing,” said Dear­est Duck.

Any­way b’ys, that wart ru­ined me in ge­om­e­try.

But I didn’t in­tend to fo­cus on warts.

I meant to dis­cuss se­b­or­rheic ker­ato­sis and ex­plain its con­nec­tion to wis­dom.

But first, I must men­tion tit­ters, eu­phemisti­cally called skin tags nowa­days. Mr. Google makes them sound worse than se­b­or­rheic ker­ato­sis. He calls them fi­broep­ithe­lial polyps. And — get this — to make con­di­tions worse, he says they might have a pe­dun­cle. A pe­dun­cle? For frig sake!

Be­fore you look it up, know this: my cau­li­flower wart had a whole clus­ter of pe­dun­cles. “Harry!”

Tit­ters are un­sightly, dan­gly — okay, polyp-like — bits of

flesh that can ap­pear any­where on your body. Yes, any­where! Even there.

In ad­di­tion to ac­ci­den­tally slic­ing them off while shav­ing your neck or, well, armpits, for ex­am­ple, there are other ways to re­move tit­ters.

Drug­stores will sell you a va­ri­ety of pricey prod­ucts that prom­ise to ban­ish tit­ters. Look for pack­ages marked Skin Tag Re­mover, or some­thing sim­i­lar.

Or, as Granny did, take a length of sewing cot­ton and tie a knot bar tight around the tit­ter’s stem, ef­fec­tively cut­ting off the tit­ter’s blood sup­ply. Af­ter a spell, the tit­ter will wither and fall like an au­tumn leaf.

Ty­ing off one or two tit­ters wouldn’t look too bad, I s’pose. But two dozen knot­ted bit of sewing cot­ton might cause folks to won­der if your neck was un­rav­el­ling, eh b’ys? “Harry?”

“Al­right. Se­b­or­rheic ker­ato­sis. I’m get­ting there.”

“Speed it up then, my me­an­der­ing man.”

I haven’t been wan­der­ing. Not re­ally.

Warts, tit­ters, and se­b­or­rheic ker­ato­sis are re­lated — kinda. Each is an unattrac­tive, yet mostly be­nign, skin con­di­tions.

I know be­cause I’ve hosted all three.

As well as the afore­men­tioned warts, I con­fess to hav­ing sev­eral skin tags present on my manly flab. Nei­ther one is tied off with sewing cot­ton

And, like many old codgers, I’m freck­led to death with se­b­or­rheic ker­ato­sis.

A spell ago, I no­ticed a dark patch of flesh had ap­peared where my hair­line orig­i­nally ended. It looked as if Dear­est Duck had re­peat­edly chas­tised me with a sooty fin­ger­tip for some imag­ined of­fense.

The patch grew darker and be­gan to thicken.

“Don’t pick at that,” Dear­est Duck said when she re­al­ized I was do­ing ex­actly that — pick­ing at the dark patch on a daily ba­sis. “You should get it looked at.”

So I did. Both. Stopped pick­ing. And had the spot looked at.

At The Clinic, The Der­ma­tol­o­gist grabbed my chin, shuffed back my head, twisted my face from side to side and said, “Se­b­or­rheic ker­ato­sis.” “Doc­tor…?” “Noth­ing to worry about. It’s just a wis­dom spot.” “Doc­tor …?”

“Most peo­ple call those blem­ishes liver spots. But it’s kinder to call them wis­dom spots, don’t you think?”

“Can this one be re­moved?” “Not a prob­lem,” the doc­tor, the spe­cial­ist said. “I can tie a bit of sewing cot­ton around it and let it rot.”


That’s a lie. The doc­tor didn’t say that, eh b’ys?

Home from the Clinic, I vis­ited Mr. Google for more de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about wis­dom spots. I found in­for­ma­tion sup­ple­mented with de­tailed il­lus­tra­tions and vivid pho­to­graphs.

Sure enough, Mr. Google agreed with The Doc­tor.

Se­b­or­rheic ker­ato­sis, com­monly called liver spots, has many names, among them wis­dom spots, age spots, bar­na­cles, and one that causes me to re­mem­ber Grade 9 …

… se­nile warts, for frig sake. Thank you for read­ing.

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