Flashback Friday: Duct tape can do everything — including cure your warts.

By Seriously Science | August 25, 2017 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Joe Loong

Image: Flickr/Joe Loong

Mmm… warts! Those fun, fleshy skin growths caused by papillomavirus. They are harmless, and yet… ugh. One of the most common methods of removal is to freeze them off using liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy). But apparently there’s a DIY method that, according to this study, works even better: covering them with duct tape. It takes up to a couple months of diligent tape-wearing to work, but hey, it might help you avoid yet another medical bill. And for those of you wanting to try this at home, be aware that you should stick to the old-fashioned silver duct tape (according to other research, clear duct tape doesn’t have the same effects). And before you ask — no, McGuyver wasn’t one of the authors!

The efficacy of duct tape vs cryotherapy in the treatment of verruca vulgaris (the common wart).

OBJECTIVE: To determine if application of duct tape is as effective as cryotherapy in the treatment of common warts.

DESIGN: A prospective, randomized controlled trial with 2 treatment arms for warts in children.

SETTING: The general pediatric and adolescent clinics at a military medical center.

PATIENTS: A total of 61 patients (age range, 3-22 years) were enrolled in the study from October 31, 2000, to July 25, 2001; 51 patients completed the study and were available for analysis.

INTERVENTION: Patients were randomized using computer-generated codes to receive either cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen applied to each wart for 10 seconds every 2-3 weeks) for a maximum of 6 treatments or duct tape occlusion (applied directly to the wart) for a maximum of 2 months. Patients had their warts measured at baseline and with return visits.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Complete resolution of the wart being studied.

RESULTS: Of the 51 patients completing the study, 26 (51%) were treated with duct tape, and 25 (49%) were treated with cryotherapy. Twenty-two patients (85%) in the duct tape arm vs 15 patients (60%) enrolled in the cryotherapy arm had complete resolution of their warts (P =.05 by chi(2) analysis). The majority of warts that responded to either therapy did so within the first month of treatment.

CONCLUSION: Duct tape occlusion therapy was significantly more effective than cryotherapy for treatment of the common wart.

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  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    Papillomavirus is a DNA virus. One wonders how well it is protected against thymine dimer formation. Go out into bright sunlight with a thin magnifying glass. Give it a fat dose of focus, short of burning yourself.

    DOI:10.1046/j.1523-1747.1998.00436.x
    …UVB, ~295-320 nm
    rocoes(.)com(.)tw/2008e/IMAGE/slg4.gif

  • Not_that_anyone_cares, but…

    Did not work on two(2) of my wart.

    Liquid nitrogen did work however.

  • Bud Johnson

    Questions arise about the safety of using duct tape to treat warts. First, what is the adhesive on the back of the tape made from? Could this adhesive be transferring a chemical through the skin that could later be found harmful to the person? Are the warts coming off because duct tape provides such a strong hold that it rips it off versus freezing? Could it cause damage to the surrounding tissue of the wart after peeling the tape off? I find it very interesting if it truly works, but more research should be done before people begin doing this at home.

    • OWilson

      I believe the effectiveness of duct tape is related to its ability to deny air to the wart itself.

      Some home recipes that always worked for us as kids were clear nail polish, which very effective, and a mixture made from the sulphur chemical of matches, which was painted on, slightly less so.

      All consistent with duct tape as ‘suffocating” the offending skin “weed”.

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