"Now this won't hurt a bit." Ever heard a doctor say that right before she freezes your wart off (also known as cryosurgery)? Don't believe her. I don't know if it's the freezing or the scraping that hurts worse, but having gone through both once before with a plantar wart on my foot, the whole procedure wasn't one that I ever wanted to experience again (even vicariously).
Enter duct tape.
What convinced me to try duct tape to remove warts were the results of a study reported in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (October 2002). The study was conducted at the Madigan Army Medical Center near Tacoma, Washington on 51 patients (ages 3-22) with warts. (Seattle and Tacoma have a rivalry of sorts so Seattleites in particular enjoyed this study as it gave us plenty of new material.) Of those 26 patients treated with duct tape, 85 percent eliminated their warts. Doesn't sound like that impressive of a success rate? The 25 patients who received cryosurgery had only a 60% rate of success.
Here are a few tips on how to remove warts using duct tape:
- When you choose duct tape, go for the all-purpose kind. Chances are you have a roll of it around the house already. No need to use a high-end version. It just so happened that my ex used a different duct tape than I did--his was yellow and a bit more lightweight than mine--whereas I used your standard gray.
- In the study, the patients wore the duct tape atop their warts for six days. Then they removed the tape, soaked the affected area in water and used an emery board or pumice to scrape the area. The duct tape was reapplied the following morning. This routine was continued until the wart went away (for a maximum of two months).
- Our application was much less well-controlled. My ex and I put the duct tape on our son's foot and would reapply it whenever we--or he--noticed that it had fallen off. This might mean that our son would go a day or two without any duct tape. We continued this strategy for a couple of months. We did not soak the wart. I picked at it with tweezers now and then to see if it was ready to come out, but as this was not an activity that anyone enjoyed, I decided to just continue applying the duct tape day after day after day.
- Although the study used duct tape that only just covered the wart, we used strips that went well beyond the edges of the wart. I've heard many accounts from people claiming that the duct tape stays on the skin without a problem, but that was not our experience. I would tape the edges of the duct tape with additional adhesive tape to secure it; even then, the duct tape never stayed on for more than a day at a time (which may have something to do with the activity level of a seven-year-old boy!)
- If you're wondering how to assess your progress, the wart should become whitish and crusty after a few weeks at the most. The wart begins to look less well-established and small pieces begin to flake off.
I've described my deviations from the study protocol herein so that readers will understand that using duct tape as a wart remover is not rocket science. When it comes to children, this type of therapy is relatively painless, and if it doesn't work, you can always segue to treatment at the doctor's office, none the worse for wear.
You want to hear the happy ending, I know: Yes, the wart came off (finally!) after somewhere between two to three months. In the meantime, however, another one popped up nearby. Probably because we were able to catch that one earlier, it took only a few weeks to remove the second wart via duct tape therapy.