Posted on Jul 12, 2019, 2 p.m.
Many people have warts, they typically appear as a result of a viral infection that the body takes several months or years to mount an immune response against, meaning it can take some time for warts to resolve on their own. Although unsightly they are typically not medically harmful, without treatment then can take up to 2-3 years to go away on their own.
There are those that believe that they can use duct tape as a home remedy to remove warts. Studies investigating this have yielded mixed results on effectiveness, and it can cause skin irritation in some people.
Using duct tape may help some to get rid of warts more quickly, the method requires frequent and repeated applications of duct tape to be effective, and some find it difficult to keep up with; for this reason some prefer other home remedies or medical treatment options.
The theory of using duct tape to remove warts is that the tape deprives skin cells of oxygen to suffocate the wart, making it more likely that the skin cells will die, and the process of applying and removing the duct tape may also remove additional skin cells making the wart appear to be less bulky and noticeable.
There is a lack of recent research into this method and earlier studies investigating duct tape wart removal have yielded mixed results.
One study involving 51 participants between the ages of 3-22 found this method was significantly more effective than using liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart. Participants received up to 6 sessions of cryotherapy every 2-3 weeks or 2 months of duct tape application; results showed 60% of those in the cryotherapy group had their warts resolved, while 80% of those in the duct tape group had their wart resolved entirely.
Another study investigating using adhesive pads to treat warts found that adding duct tape to a breathable moleskin fabric made no difference in effectiveness. 80 adult participants wore a moleskin pad or a moleskin pad with duct tape for 2 months. Results showed that among those using only the moleskin pad 22% had their warts resolved, while 21% of those using the moleskin pad plus duct tape had their warts resolved entirely.
A meta-analysis concluded that using evidence available there is nothing to suggest that using duct tape is any better than a placebo for wart removal after examining previous studies investigating salicylic acid application, cryotherapy treatments, and duct tape removal.
It was noted that much of this research is limited by continually applying the duct tape and keeping at it for 2-3 months, without proper and continued application the therapy is unlikely to work.
The suggested method to perform duct tape wart removal is to cut a small piece of duct tape that is large enough to cover the wart and stay on the area. Before applying the duct tape ensure that the area is clean and thoroughly dry; some people apply 17% salicylic acid solution to increase effectiveness. If the duct tape comes off, repeat these steps each and every time it falls off. Remove the duct tape once a week to wash the wart and gently use an emery board, pumice stone, or piece of sandpaper to remove the dead skin cells; allow the wart to dry overnight before reapplying more duct tape to the area for another week.
In order for the duct tape wart removal to work it is recommended to use this method for 8 weeks, and the tape must be occlusive to not allow air to escape or enter. Using adhesives such as cloth bandages will not have the same effect as properly applied duct tape to remove warts.
Using duct tape to remove warts can cause some side effects such as redness, itching, bleeding, eczema, and other skin reactions. If any of these reactions occur stop using this method right away. Once the area is healed it is recommended to try a different method whether it be another home remedy or medical treatment.
A healthcare professional can offer advice on which medical option is best for you which includes cryotherapy/short burst of liquid nitrogen; salicylic acid/natural peeling agent; laser therapy; and intralesional injections.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.