Home treatment of hen thistles. What do we need to know?

Thorns are one of the leading causes requiring manipulation by a dermatologist. The established methods for their removal are cryotherapy, laser treatment and in extreme cases – surgical excision. However, before reaching the medical professionals, people usually go through various forms of self-medication, which unfortunately only worsen the condition and make the subsequent cure more difficult. Today we will look at the main methods of home treatment of hen thistles and why we should not apply them.

A patient’s path from discovering a coccyx to seeing a specialist usually goes through many different forms of self-treatment. It all starts with the appearance of the first lesion. The chicken pox is actually a type of viral wart from the group of human papilloma viruses. These are over 150 different types, causing diseases from warts on the body to precancerous conditions on the genitals. On the skin of the feet and hands, chicken pox usually starts as painful calluses – this is how they are most often described by patients. In the center of the formations are often seen black dots – these represent thrombosed blood vessels. It is they who are most often the object of the first form of self-treatment:

Mechanical removal, scraping and carving of the painful formation

Depending on their location, hen’s thorns range from highly indented skin growths on the heels to highly prominent hard skin growths on the lateral surface of the feet, hands and toes. The discomfort they cause, besides the aesthetic component, is the leading reason they are subject to constant manipulation. Most often after a bath, when the skin is softened, resort to the attempt to mechanically remove the thistle. Knives, scissors, needles, razors and barber blades, even in some cases surgical blades, are used for this purpose. Often, the formation is deepened to blood, leading to soreness on pressure, lasting several days. This is followed by a period of relief as much of the diseased tissue is removed. The pain of hen’s thorn stems from the layered skin, which is why its removal brings temporary relief. Unfortunately, after its accumulation, the complaints return. This inevitably leads to a new “cleansing”, which marks the beginning of a closed circle. Since chicken pox is a viral disease, any such cleaning leads to the spread of viral particles on the surrounding skin. Multiple new hen thorns appear, and in some cases if the primary is on the legs, secondary ones appear on the arms. This also leads to the second peculiarity in the self-treatment of hen thistles :

Does the removal of the “mother” lead to the removal of the “daughter entities”?

Here the mother is a correct term insofar as she can indeed be considered the source of other hen thorns on various parts of the body. We have already explained how this happens. However, the eventual cure of the mother does not lead to the disappearance of secondary formations. For this reason, all hen thistles should be treated simultaneously until all sources of self-infection are eliminated. Apart from the ‘mother’, another common target of hen thistle removal efforts is the so-called root:

Does removing the “root” of the hen’s thorn solve the problem?

The root actually represents the thrombosed blood vessels we have already talked about. The blackheads actually look a lot like tree roots or microscopic thorns stuck deep into the skin. This is probably where the name hen’s thistle comes from. The attempt to remove the root is usually again mechanical, thereby ending up with a carving down to the dermis, or as is often reported by patients – to the flesh. Besides not solving the problem, digging is a prerequisite for deeper penetration of the corns into the foot, which makes the problem even more painful. The shedding of viral particles and the appearance of multiple chicken pox are also common. And here the process is usually repeated until it is too painful and does not bring the characteristic temporary relief.

Everything listed so far were mechanical methods of self-healing. Chemical ones come next. We start with the most commonly used tool:

Do the patches from the pharmacy against calluses and chicken pox help?

Although sold in pharmacies, these remedies do not always lead to a cure. The fact is that we as medical professionals only reach people who have failed in their attempts to cure themselves, and we have no monitoring over the success rate. Where is the problem with these patches? Most often, they contain a high percentage of salicylic acid – usually in the form of a greenish gel-shaped circular field in the center of the patch. Salicylic acid, and acids in general, lead to tissue coagulation necrosis. In plain terms, this means that in dying, the tissue is compacted, creating an insurmountable barrier to further penetration into depth. This is also the reason for the failures in attempts to treat hen thistles. Peeling of the superficial skin is obtained without reaching the desired depth. Repeating the procedure results in extensive damage to healthy skin, in some cases the appearance of sores and significant pain when walking. In the very early stages of the development of chicken pox, without them being far into the skin, it is possible that treatment with patches will be successful, but often when patients notice the presence of a chicken pox, especially on the foot, this is the point at which it has made them ill, and this means that it is already too deep to be cured. In addition to the pharmacy form of acid patches, folk medicine offers not a few variants following the principle of salicylic acid, the most famous of which are

Does aspirin on tomatoes, salicylic acid in cream, oil in vinegar, sorrel leaves, fig milk cure?

For all of them, what was said about the patches from the pharmacy is applicable. In early stages and very superficial lesions, it is possible to achieve a cure. Even then, it involves repeated procedures, severe discomfort and often ulceration of healthy skin. Another problem with these methods is that if a cure is not reached, the problem gets worse. Injured skin is a prerequisite for the spread of the virus, and the dislocation of the thorn is the cause of its deeper penetration and worsening of the pain.

As we have already mentioned, we as medical professionals are approached by people who have failed in the self-treatment methods of henbane. Even if some of the above options work, or the dozens of others that exist but we have not listed, the harm they can have often outweighs the benefit. In medicine, for a treatment to be accepted, the benefit must outweigh the risk or harm. For this reason, as dermatologists, we advise that hen’s thorns be treated according to accepted medical standards, without attempts at self-treatment.