In the UK we have just moved to British Summer Time, and this weekend Spring has well and truly arrived with mild temperatures and clear skies. Clear skies mean more sun and more skin exposure to sun means more vitamin D, which apparently most of us Brits are short of. Here are a couple of related things which recently happened together - but are they related?
Since 2011 I have been on Azathioprine and the main side-effect has been various warts on my fingers of two varieties - the common ones (about 8 at the moment) and so-called periungual warts (present on 7 out of 10 fingers) which appear as dry thickened skin patches down the side of the fingernails which tend to merge together over time. These are apparently a direct result of a suppressed immune system and common when taking this medication. In the last few years I have tried to treat them with duct-tape and with cryotherapy, neither of which were very effective.
1. In the last four weeks all of the periungual warts have either cleared or significantly reduced and two of the older conventional warts have also gone. I am closely watching the rest.
2. In the last four weeks I started taking daily vitamin D supplements of 10𝞵g (= 400 International Units) which is the recommended daily dose (at least in the UK).
So are these two events a happy coincidence or is there a link? Vitamin D is supposed to benefit the immune system, amongst other things; it's role as a treatment for warts (in higher doses) is not proven. On the other hand, my doctor told me a while ago that eventually my immune system would probably figure out how to deal with these warts, but it would likely take several years.
It became more interesting when I started looking into it a bit further and found that there is thought to be a link between low levels of vitamin D and auto-immune disease. However, and this is a BIG, however some studies suggest that these low levels may be a result not a cause, and that taking additional vitamin D could make some auto-immune disease WORSE. The jury is clearly still out (link) and I'm not qualified to comment further. I'll cautiously continue with the vitamin D for now, especially if the warts keep improving.
(Just in case anyone is in any doubt, I am not a doctor and recounting my personal experience, not advocating vitamin D. Anyone considering taking supplements of any kind should always consult with their doctor, especially if already taking other medication.)
Read other articles in this series at Living With CLIPPERS.
Living With CLIPPERS by Bill Crum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.