Objective: To determine the association of low serum zinc levels with persistent, progressive or recurrent viral warts.
Study design: A comparative study.
Place and duration of study: Dermatology outpatient department of Combined Military Hospital, Abbottabad in collaboration with Department of Chemical Pathology, Army Medical College, Rawalpindi, from June 2006 to May 2007.
Methodology: Seventy five patients having warts of more than six months duration, more than 10 in number, who either not responded to or had recurrence after previous treatments for viral warts and not having other chronic dermatological or systemic illness were included in the study after informed consent. Seventy five age and gender matched healthy individuals were taken as control. Serum zinc analysis was carried out by atomic absorption spectrometry using Perkin elmen (USA) apparatus. Independent sample t-test was used to compare mean zinc levels in microgram/litre with significance at p < 0.05.
Results: Age of the patients as well as controls ranged from 12-65 years with a mean of 25.88 + 8.90 years. Serum zinc level was low in 42 (56%) patients and 24 (32%) controls (p=0.003). Among the patients, serum zinc level ranged from 695-1090 micro-gram/litre with a mean of 804.38 + 100.60, whereas the level ranged from 690-1100 microgram/litre with a mean of 836.17 + 91.04 among controls (p 0.044).
Conclusion: Zinc deficiency is associated with persistent, progressive or recurrent viral warts in the studied patients. Randomized controlled trials with careful dose adjustment of oral zinc sulphate may be helpful to formulate guide lines to manage such patients.