Which Type of Duct Tape Is Best for Wart Removal?

Which Type of Duct Tape Is Best for Wart Removal?
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Why do some experiments show that duct tape is ineffective for treating warts?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

In 1978, a new approach for the treatment of warts was described, complete with compelling before-and-after pictures. What was it? The application of adhesive tape. This was put to the test head-to-head in a trial of duct tape versus cryotherapy to resounding success.

Now, though this was a randomized controlled study, it wasn’t a double-blind study. “Patients in the duct tape [group] were instructed to remove all tape prior to making a return clinic visit,” so that the nurses measuring the wart changes wouldn’t be biased one way or the other. But remember, the cryotherapy can cause redness, “skin discoloration, crusting” and blisters; so, the nurses may have had an idea which kid was in which group, and maybe that could have biased them. So, ideally, there’d be a double-blind, randomized controlled trial of duct tape for the treatment of common warts, and here we go.

Check it out: this is how they disguised the duct tape so no one knew who was in each group. They used transparent duct tape applied to the underside of moleskin, which is an opaque adhesive pad, and the control group just got the moleskin without the duct tape underneath. So, on the outside, both treatments looked the same, but half the warts were exposed to duct tape, and the other half were not. So, if there was something special about the duct tape adhesive, the duct tape group would triumph, and the straight moleskin group would fail. If there was nothing special about duct tape, and the remarkable success of that other study was just the act of covering warts with anything sticky, then they would both triumph. But instead, they both failed. They both did like no better than placebo.

The “first double-blind controlled trial investigating” duct tape for warts, and it failed “for treating common warts in adults.” Hmm, well maybe that was the problem? The subjects in the original duct tape study were mostly kids—average age nine—whereas in this study the average age was 54. And yeah, warts in younger populations may be more amenable to treatment. So, is it possible the reason duct tape worked in the first study, but not the second, is that duct tape only works in kids, but not adults? Well, you’d have to repeat the same kind of study, but this time with children.

About 100 schoolchildren were randomized to having duct tape applied to the wart, or a corn pad around the wart as a placebo. So, they both did something, but only one group had duct tape on their warts. They used that same clear duct tape, so they wouldn’t recognize it, and it looks nicer too. Six weeks later and—the duct tape failed.

And that’s where the medical community left it. If you look at recent reviews on whether it’s better to burn them, freeze them, or duct tape them, they dismiss duct tape as totally ineffective, which is totally understandable. No matter how good some original results are, if you put the same thing to the test in a bigger, better study and can’t replicate the results, then you have to assume the first study was just a fluke.

But did they put the same thing to the test? Maybe adults weren’t the operative word here, and instead it was…”.transparent.” “Clear duct tape is not duct tape.” It turns out “[c]lear duct tape and moleskin both contain an acrylic-based adhesive, whereas standard silver duct tape contains a totally different rubber-based adhesive.” “It is likely that the success of traditional duct tape is associated with the…adhesive that comes in direct contact with the wart during treatment.” In fact, even more likely after the two clear tape studies came out, showing that indeed it appears to be something unique in duct tape, and not just merely the act of occlusion—just covering a wart up. And indeed, the latest addition to the body of evidence found that similar 80 percent versus 60 percent duct tape over cryotherapy, using real duct tape (but in this case sticking it on with some superglue, so the duct tape would stick better).

In conclusion: “Odd as it may sound, duct tape is a legitimate and often effective treatment for common warts.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Santeri Viinamäki via wikimedia. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

In 1978, a new approach for the treatment of warts was described, complete with compelling before-and-after pictures. What was it? The application of adhesive tape. This was put to the test head-to-head in a trial of duct tape versus cryotherapy to resounding success.

Now, though this was a randomized controlled study, it wasn’t a double-blind study. “Patients in the duct tape [group] were instructed to remove all tape prior to making a return clinic visit,” so that the nurses measuring the wart changes wouldn’t be biased one way or the other. But remember, the cryotherapy can cause redness, “skin discoloration, crusting” and blisters; so, the nurses may have had an idea which kid was in which group, and maybe that could have biased them. So, ideally, there’d be a double-blind, randomized controlled trial of duct tape for the treatment of common warts, and here we go.

Check it out: this is how they disguised the duct tape so no one knew who was in each group. They used transparent duct tape applied to the underside of moleskin, which is an opaque adhesive pad, and the control group just got the moleskin without the duct tape underneath. So, on the outside, both treatments looked the same, but half the warts were exposed to duct tape, and the other half were not. So, if there was something special about the duct tape adhesive, the duct tape group would triumph, and the straight moleskin group would fail. If there was nothing special about duct tape, and the remarkable success of that other study was just the act of covering warts with anything sticky, then they would both triumph. But instead, they both failed. They both did like no better than placebo.

The “first double-blind controlled trial investigating” duct tape for warts, and it failed “for treating common warts in adults.” Hmm, well maybe that was the problem? The subjects in the original duct tape study were mostly kids—average age nine—whereas in this study the average age was 54. And yeah, warts in younger populations may be more amenable to treatment. So, is it possible the reason duct tape worked in the first study, but not the second, is that duct tape only works in kids, but not adults? Well, you’d have to repeat the same kind of study, but this time with children.

About 100 schoolchildren were randomized to having duct tape applied to the wart, or a corn pad around the wart as a placebo. So, they both did something, but only one group had duct tape on their warts. They used that same clear duct tape, so they wouldn’t recognize it, and it looks nicer too. Six weeks later and—the duct tape failed.

And that’s where the medical community left it. If you look at recent reviews on whether it’s better to burn them, freeze them, or duct tape them, they dismiss duct tape as totally ineffective, which is totally understandable. No matter how good some original results are, if you put the same thing to the test in a bigger, better study and can’t replicate the results, then you have to assume the first study was just a fluke.

But did they put the same thing to the test? Maybe adults weren’t the operative word here, and instead it was…”.transparent.” “Clear duct tape is not duct tape.” It turns out “[c]lear duct tape and moleskin both contain an acrylic-based adhesive, whereas standard silver duct tape contains a totally different rubber-based adhesive.” “It is likely that the success of traditional duct tape is associated with the…adhesive that comes in direct contact with the wart during treatment.” In fact, even more likely after the two clear tape studies came out, showing that indeed it appears to be something unique in duct tape, and not just merely the act of occlusion—just covering a wart up. And indeed, the latest addition to the body of evidence found that similar 80 percent versus 60 percent duct tape over cryotherapy, using real duct tape (but in this case sticking it on with some superglue, so the duct tape would stick better).

In conclusion: “Odd as it may sound, duct tape is a legitimate and often effective treatment for common warts.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Santeri Viinamäki via wikimedia. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

I love it when there are cheap, safe, side effect-free solutions to common medical problems. That’s one of the reasons I started NutritionFacts.org: to unearth all the amazing medical knowledge that just doesn’t have a corporate budget driving promotion. Everything we do here is free; no ads, no corporate sponsorships, no selling you anything. If you’d like to support this nonprofit work and help grow our team of researchers, you can donate here.

This is the last in a three-video series. If you’re like, “Duct tape? Warts? What?!”, be sure to check out the first two: Duct Tape & Wart Removal and Can You Really Remove Warts with Duct Tape?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

60 responses to “Which Type of Duct Tape Is Best for Wart Removal?

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  1. What about duct tape for other skin repair, like small cuts? Sometimes I can do cut repair before I can get to a Band-Aid—and the tape seems to work just fine.
    Oh, and those over worn tennis shoes where the toes are coming apart. Get a few more weeks out of your separating shoes by wrapping the tips with duct tape.

    1. If you patch up your car with Duct Tape here in the Rural South, it can be referred to as “Kentucky Chrome” (provided you’re not in KY).

      AT LEAST double blind, placebo-controlled clinical human trials with warts don’t threaten the health of the “placebo” controls.

      Now can we move on to nutrition?

    2. Would duct tape heal seborrheic keratosis? I just started using ACV on them as I heard some people had some success with that. Anyone have any other sure- fire home remedies? Thanks.

  2. So rubber-based adhesives are the key to success?

    –What is the mechanism of its effectiveness?
    –Does it work in vitro?
    –Is there is some component of rubber-adhesives that is the true “active ingredient”?
    –Could this putative ingredient be concentrated and be applied as an even more effective treatment?

    So many questions remain…

      1. I think it was the SuperGlue.
        ———————————————
        And with that confounding factor, we can only guess if it had an effect on the results. ‘-)

        Also makes me wonder if the same patch has to be left on over the length of the study or if one can change to another Duct Tape patch if the first one loosens?

  3. Rubber adhesives contain ‘carba mix’, a allergen to many people and an irritant to most everyone. All wart medications work by causing a topical skin reaction that triggers a localized immune response to attack the area.

      1. Lonie, duct tape worked for me, quickly and painlessly.. and I suffered no allergic reaction though I do have a latex allergy. Hospital bandages will cause red marks and welts that remain for many weeks, even if applied in error and removed quickly. The duct tape will cause skin underneath to go white and wrinkly (temporarily, like you stayed in a hot bath too long) , but a person only needs a square of tape to amply cover the wart.

        1. Yeah, no doubt here the duct tape works… just remembering back to my childhood when we always had a spool of that white tape in the medicine cabinet. I wish they had tested that tape on warts as well (assuming they still make the stuff… don’t have warts but if I did I think I’ve still got some of that in my medicine cabinet.)

          I do not remember ever hearing of anyone having an allergic reaction to that, but then, we were less sensitive back then. ‘-)

          1. a spool of that white tape in the medicine cabinet. I wish they had tested that tape on warts as well
            ————————————————————————-
            To add to my previous point, I think the thing that makes many studies fail is the lack of imagination.

            Too many studies are formed to test one comparison… succeed or fail. If they were broadened to allow for other outcomes due to multiple comparisons, they could achieve telling results that might just save doing further studies on the same subject years later.

            Annnnndddddd, they might discover something that could trigger further lines of questioning instead of just accepting the success or failure results and dropping the subject based on those limited results.

        2. Barb – how did you get the duct tape to stay on? It falls off with me really quickly. And if one used superglue – is it around the edges of the duct tape and then how does one get that off? Daft questions – sorry!

          1. Wow Jean! Are you using the silver duct tape? If you are using on your foot or hand for example, make sure your skin is clean and very dry. No creams etc. For my finger, I did cut a piece about 3/4 ” wide, and long enough to go round and overlap. I changed it on day 3 or so, but it stayed on. I was more curious than anything. I would never use superglue. If need be apply waterproof adhesive overtop if you like. Change it everyday if you like.. doesn’t matter, just keep tape on there till the wart is gone.

  4. The duct tape worked or me. I was skeptical because the wart was so close to my eye. I put it on and in less than a week it dried up. I’m loving it. It worked for me!

  5. 1) I have a chocolate which is made of 100% Cacao Beans. There is no added sugar, oil, or anything. Is this OK to eat? Is this comparable to something like peanut butter, which Dr. Greger is OK with or to something like coconut butter, which Dr. Greger is not OK with?

    Also, 2) does anyone know about plastic particles or BMAA in Nori or Wakame seaweed? Thanks.

    1. I have a chocolate which is made of 100% Cacao Beans. There is no added sugar, oil, or anything. Is this OK to eat?
      ———————————————————————————————————————
      YR, don’t know if it is the same thing you are talking about, but I buy Raw, Organic cocao powder.

      As you say, it is no added sugar, oil or anything… just cacao. Bitter stuff so I always add something like pure maple syrup to take the edge off. I just recently added some to some peanut butter powder and almond powder… a few other things I can’t recall ATM, but I’m having the devil’s own time getting that eaten, even with some maple syrup and molasses added.

      It’s too healthy to throw away so I’ll get through it eventually.

      Having farmed during my early years, anything with “weed” in its name is anathema to me, so I can’t help you with your sea-grown weed question. ‘-)

        1. Yeah, my natural sweetener of choice is Monk Fruit, AKA Lo Han Sweetener… but I generally only use that in my more bitter teas.

      1. Try dates for sweetness – experiment, they are very sweet. For a full container I never use more the two. Combine with banana and other fruits, protein powder of choice, flax seed, chia, hempseed, etc. for yum smoothie. All in the Vitamix.

    2. 100% cacao is good.

      But since you called it chocolate, I am going to clarify that it doesn’t have milk.

      Milk chocolate is not good. Milk takes away the benefits.

      Dr. Greger has videos on the topic.

  6. That ’70s study was using adhesive tape. I’m assuming that would be the white medical tape that the public bought and used. Was that tape just as good as duct tape? If so, I’d personally rather have a spot of that over a wart than gray duct tape… although duct tape comes in many colors these days.

      1. Looking at the bikinis, I am thinking they are just calling things “duct tape” no matter what the adhesive nowadays.
        ——————————————————————————————–
        Deb, I think the picture was a perfect example of trompe l’oeil. That is, I don’t think those bikinis were taped on, I think they were painted on… those ladies were necked! ‘-)

        1. They swear it is duct tape.

          Some of us know that women wearing duct tape bathing suits would need armed guards.

          Men were already too fascinated with duct tape and bikinis.

          Crossing the streams seems pretty risky.

  7. As an MD who ran a wound care clinic, I began to realize that dressings that required frequent changes, other than a very acutely infected wound, would not perform well, in part, I think and studies show, due to inadequate hand washing and improper sterile technique. Studies in the late 1970’s-80’s began to show even rigid dressings, such as casting fresh amputees, healed faster, had less oedema, less pain, and less frequent infections leading to early ambulation and mental health recovery as well. At that time I was doing my residency in Boston, and I could not get acceptance for rigid casting but was able to convince some surgeons to allow me to apply dome paste dressings, Unna’s boots, postoperatively in in the OR. I had to agree to be on call myself to remove these dressings when fevers occurred. Fortunately, infections were much more rare in those with dome paste dressings and this group also were fit with prostheses and ambulated much sooner. I suspect poultices may have worked similarly. Unna’s boots were roll gauze soaked with calamine lotion and zinc oxide drying with a rubbery slightly elastic consistency if applied properly, by frequently cutting the gauze to avoid excessive tension on the wound. I also had extensive success with foot wounds including those associated with DM. Properly applied occlusive dressings reduce trauma, reduce oedema, and keep wounds clean. As we might expect, correcting nutritional deficiencies was vital in wound healing. Medical marijuana worked very well in many too sick to have an appetite. I was even able to heal bilateral high above-knne amputations and massive buttock wounds in a patient who infarcted his aorta just below the renal arteries. Medical marijuana was dramatically effective in this person with catastropic blood loss of blood supply resulting in extensive wounds. Short term anabolic steroids worked well also always with a major focus on appetite, nutrition, and protective muscle and tissue recovery. This person became a robust wheelchair user and had a good long term survival. Whatever we do to wounds, good nutrition is essential.

      1. Looking for a treatment for toe nail fungus
        ——————————————————-
        Wouldn’t it be weird if duct tape worked on toe nail fungus as well as it does on warts? ‘-)

      2. I tried everything including tea tree. It always came back. Daily application of Betadine worked and hasn’t come back for eight weeks now.

          1. Dave, have you tried woolen socks? I cannot abide by cotton socks anymore, I’ve only worn wool for years on my feet. Cotton just soaks up moisture and sits there like a wet sponge. Wool breaths easy and is has anti-bacterial properties. I had stinky feet in the cotton-socks days. The insides of my 14 year-old boots smell like leather, because I’ve never worn them with anything but wool. Best of luck.

            1. Dave, have you tried woolen socks? I cannot abide by cotton socks anymore, I’ve only worn wool for years on my feet. Cotton just soaks up moisture and sits there like a wet sponge. Wool breaths easy and is has anti-bacterial properties.
              ——————————————————————————————————————————–
              Wade, good call but soon there should be (IMO) an even better solution… hemp socks. I had a pair I slept in during the winter… until I lost one of them. Also anti-bacterial and breathable plus, tough as can be.

          2. I watched a video where guys used apple cider vinegar (although you could use betadine or tree oil or other oils that many have also had success with). The problem is usually you have to soak the toenail for quite a while at least once a day. The solution I found to this that seems to work very well is actually using duct tape and cotton balls! Take a piece of duct tape just big enough to cover the toe (or each toe if multiple) from the last joint to the tip. Cut a hole in the tape before putting it on the toe to allow the nail to be exposed (like a protective barrier for surgery) while protecting the skin from the apple cider vinegar. Now place a piece of the cotton ball big enough to cover the hole the nail is showing through. Wet the cotton with the ointment of your choice and place it on the nail (if too wet squeeze the excess out first). Put a second piece of duct tape over the cotton to seal it in.
            Now you’ve got the ointment in a nice sealed environment to keep it on the nail and not dry up or be wiped off my socks. It also seems to soften the nail (like soaking it) by keeping the tape over it. This works very well and easy to change daily or twice a day sometimes until it’s cleared up.

            1. I’ve only had mild cases of toe nail fungus so I don’t worry about it much. But lately I’ve been rubbing my feet with hemp oil (not CBD oil) just for the heck of it and have noticed my toe nails are in the pink.

              Since I use my hands to rub the oil on and in between my toes, I’ve noticed my nails on my hands are strong and seem to be growing faster than normal. In fact they are so strong if I let them grow they could become lethal weapons.

              Full disclosure: I’ve also taken to eating a gelatin mixture of nutrients as a snack so that could be having an effect on the fingernails.

    1. Thanks for sharing your clinical experience.

      It makes sense that nutrition aids in wound recovery.

      I am not a clinical person, but I love gadgets for wound recovery.

      Low-Level Laser Therapy.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJunHg5VFUM

      PEMF

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26511857

      Even infrared

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871200/

      Hey, I wonder if light heals warts?

      Maybe

      https://www.photonics.com/Articles/Study_Shows_Infrared_Light_Removes_Warts/a14937

  8. Coincidentally I had an appointment with my dermatologist within days of Dr Greger’s article. He said he’s used duct tape successfully for years. He said the person who invented it would be 147 years old this year, so its been around for quite awhile.

  9. For a wart on my son, I’ve used a mixture of Tea Tree Oil + Oregano Oil + fresh minced clove of Garlic. You make a paste and apply this to the wart day and night. After about 10 days, the fairly large wart just fell off, leaving behind a fresh layer of skin. That was more than 7 years ago, and it has not grown back. No need for pain or sticky tape.

    1. Sounds smelly. But glad it works.

      My concern would be burning to the skin around the wart.

      Each of those things can be caustic on sensitive skin.

      I have tried to use them for things like ringworm.

    2. ” I’ve used a mixture of Tea Tree Oil + Oregano Oil + fresh minced clove of Garlic.”

      Curious, how much of each?
      mitch

  10. Ok, original duct tape it is.. I’ll stick with what works..
    I love when simple things work in medicine. Years ago while working in the OR a motorcycle rider came in with bad road rash with imbedded gravel and dirt. They used a glorified water-pic to debried the wound. Worked like a charm. Yes they put him under cause it hurt like all get out.
    mitch

    1. Hi, Sparty! It is related, since you are asking about duct tape. A quick search revealed nothing about duct tape and skin tags. The main difference, as I understand it, between skin tags and warts is that warts are caused by a virus, while skin tags are not. Skin tags are related to obesity and metabolic disorders. They may be removed, and are less likely to recur with weight loss. I hope that helps!

  11. Just wanted to say I appreciate information like this. I’ve been battling with several warts on my leg for many years (just one side oddly). The OTC wart removers just destroyed the surrounding skin. I have very sensitive skin. Since the tea tree oil/wart video, I’ve been applying tea tree oil everyday. One larger wart is almost totally gone. Most of the warts are much smaller, but I have two bigger ones that seem to be fighting – they shrink and then build up real fast. Think I’m going to try duct tape again, especially on those two. Maybe common warts aren’t a big deal, but I so appreciate this information and have been hoping there would be something posted about them. Thank you!

  12. I’ll say it again:

    I stopped using soap and I no longer have any warts.

    (I shower with plain water. I use soap only on my hands when necessary.)

    1. Sydney,

      I mostly stopped using soap a while ago — and I have warts, and they haven’t gone away. I’m older. I wonder how I caught the virus; how does transmission work? And am I more vulnerable to warts because I’m older, and have been exposed to more wart viruses? My husband, also older, has warts, too.

  13. After having a wart on the back of my hand right on top of a prominent vein, I was given a suggestion to apply castor oil (thank you Edgar Cayce) to make it go away. And, after rubbing the castor oil on the wart, covering it with a Band-Aid, for about 3 weeks, voila! wart is gone for good.

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