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How Can You Remove Warts With Duct Tape?

In a study, applying duct tape to plantar warts for up to eight weeks was an effective way to remove warts for one person in five.
How Can You Remove Warts With Duct Tape?
A roll of Grey Duct Tape with white background

If you’ve ever tried to remove warts from your own skin or from a child’s, you know that they can be capricious. Sometimes they will disappear quickly after you apply salicylic acid. That’s the standard over-the-counter treatment. Dermatologists have other techniques, ranging from minor surgery to cryotherapy. Many people prefer home remedies, and duct tape is among the most popular. One reader describes the process.

Can You Really Remove Warts With Duct Tape?

Q. I’ve been able to remove two individual warts easily and cheaply. I’d had one for three or four years on my heel. The other was several months old, on my left triceps.

Some years before, I’d read about duct tape as a solution. I merely took a piece of duct tape large enough to cover the wart, stuck it on, and left it in place. After a couple of weeks, the tape fell off, so I replaced it. When that fell off (after another two weeks or so), the warts were completely gone. Seriously.

A. Duct tape has been a controversial way to remove warts for years. Dermatologists have often scoffed that something so simple would be helpful.

Scientists Consider Whether Duct Tape Can Remove Warts:

A recent study compared duct tape to freezing (cryotherapy) to treat plantar warts. (These appear on the soles of the feet.) Although cryotherapy was more effective (58 percent success), silver duct tape also worked for some people (20 percent). The duct tape was applied over the wart for up to eight weeks or until the wart disappeared (Dermatologic Therapy, online, March 29, 2020).

The authors conclude:

“Cryotherapy has higher efficacy than duct tape in the treatment of plantar warts in adults; however, duct tape may represent a practical and convenient alternative to cryotherapy in certain circumstances.”

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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  • Abdel-Latif AA et al, "Silver duct tape occlusion in treatment of plantar warts in adults: Is it effective?" Dermatologic Therapy, online, March 29, 2020. DOI: 10.1111/dth.13342
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