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How Can You Remove Warts With Duct Tape?

Applying duct tape to plantar warts was an effective way to remove warts for one person in five. It may be even more effective for children!

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.

Duct Tape To Remove Warts Goes Way Back:

This reader reports using the duct tape trick a long time ago:

Q. I had a plantar wart when I was a child, and we tried all the standard medical treatments for months. Freezing, soaking or shaving didn’t work at all. Then we put duct tape on it and the wart came right out. I’ve heard this only works for kids. Have you ever encountered this remedy?

A. One of the earliest studies of duct tape for warts was carried out at a pediatric and adolescent clinic (Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, Oct. 2002). The investigators compared freezing to duct tape as treatment for common warts. For these kids, duct tape was significantly more effective.

A more recent study compared freezing to duct tape for treating plantar warts in adults (Dermatologic Therapy, May, 2020). Of the 100 patients, 20 percent responded to duct tape and 58 percent healed their warts with cryotherapy (freezing). The authors note that freezing is more effective in adults but “duct tape may represent a practical and convenient alternative to cryotherapy in certain circumstances.”

Detailed Instructions on How to Use Duct Tape to Remove Warts:

An article in Canadian Family Physician (May 2019) gives these instructions:

“When using duct tape for warts, apply a small piece of duct tape directly to the wart once every 4 to 7 days; then remove the tape, clean the area with soap and water, and remove the dead skin using an emery board. Apply another piece of tape 12 hours later. Repeat this cycle for 4 to 6 weeks.”

Scientists Consider Whether Duct Tape Can Remove Warts:

The study that compared duct tape to freezing (cryotherapy) to treat plantar warts lasted  up to eight weeks or until the wart disappeared (Dermatologic Therapy, online, March 29, 2020).

The authors concluded:

“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.

Please share your own experience getting rid of plantar warts (or any other wart for that matter) in the comment section below.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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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
  • Pennycook KM & McCready TA, "Clavus." StatPearls, July 26, 2021.
  • Goldman, R.D., "Duct tape for warts in children: Should nature take its course?," Canadian Family Physician, May, 2019, PMID: 31088871
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