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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.

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.”

Duct Tape Treatment for Corns:

Corns are areas of thickened skin that develop in response to friction or pressure. They have a hard center surrounded by inflamed tissue and can be quite painful. Doctors may pare them off with a scalpel–not a DIY project! However, one reader found that duct tape helped get rid of a corn.

Q. My little toe was sore for weeks and eventually became unbearable. I looked online and determined that I had a corn on the outside of that toe.

I cut a small piece of duct tape and applied it over the corn. The peak of the corn was outlined by the tape. After a day, I removed the tape, soaked the foot, dried it and gently rubbed the corn with a pumice. After repeating the entire procedure a second day, the peak lifted out with the duct tape. The pain was gone.

A. Thank you for sharing this remedy. There are reports that this works for warts, but yours is the first testimonial we have seen that it is effective for corns. Soaking in warm water and then using pumice to remove excess skin is the first treatment dermatologists recommend (StatPearls, July 26, 2021). They also recommend following treatment with better-fitting shoes and possibly adhesive pads to prevent the friction that led to initial corn formation.

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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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