Plantar Warts and Duct Tape

Do-It-Yourself Treatment Method and Precautions

Duct Tape
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You will see the duct tape cure for plantar warts suggested in many places. A plantar wart on the bottom of your foot can cause pain with every step. You may have tried other over-the-counter treatments and may not want the effort and expense of visiting your doctor. Learn what evidence there is as to whether duct tape works to remove plantar warts, plus whether it is a safe choice.

Plantar Warts Basics 

Plantar warts are also known as verruca plantaris and the condition is often misspelled as planter's warts. A plantar wart is just like any other kind of wart, with plantar referring to the plantar area on the bottom of your foot. These warts are caused by the human papillomavirus. They appear mostly on the weight-bearing areas of the sole of your feet, especially near the base of the toes and on the heel. There is usually a hard callus over the wart.

Duct Tape Treatment for Plantar Warts

Suggestions for using tape, including duct tape, aren't just found on do-it-yourself sites. The American Academy of Dermatology and the Mayo Clinic even list it as a home remedy. Both sources admit that doctors don't know why it should work. One theory is that it removes a small amount of skin each time due to its sticky surface.

Precautions

It is strongly recommended not to try to remove the plantar wart yourself by burning, cutting, tearing, picking, or any other such method as they carry a risk of infection. You should see a doctor to have your warts treated if you have diabetes, decreased foot sensation, a weakened immune system, or multiple warts.

Here is the duct tape method:

  1. Cover the wart with a clean piece of duct tape.
  2. Change the duct tape daily for several days. Alternatively, some sources say to change it every few days.
  3. When you change the tape, soak the wart. Use a pumice stone or emery board to gently buff away dead skin. Let the foot air dry for at least an hour before you cover it with tape.

How long this will take to remove the wart could be as short as two weeks or as long as a couple of months. The question at that point is whether the method is any better than doing nothing at all.

Studies of Whether Duct Tape Works for Plantar Warts

You might well be leery of placing an industrial adhesive on your skin rather than using a corn pad that has been tested for use on the skin. An older study found more itches and rashes when children used duct tape on their warts rather than a corn pad (which was used as the sham treatment control for the study). If all things are equal, trying a corn pad is probably a wiser choice—it is something meant to be used on the foot, rather than something that hasn't been tested for provoking skin reactions. Of course, neither of these treatments may have any effect at all.

A systematic review in 2012 of topical treatments for plantar wart found no proof of effectiveness for clear duct tape. There was some discussion as to whether clear duct tape was the same thing as the duct tape you grab at the local hardware store. A review of studies in 2014 places duct tape occlusion in the "unknown effectiveness" category.

Other Treatments for Plantar Warts

Duct tape might be handy, but you are using a product on your skin that has not been tested for being allergenic or safe for that use. You may instead want to use home treatments using salicylic acid, which the studies found was most consistently effective. They are available over-the-counter at your local drug store. There are also OTC freezing medications that can remove the wart.

review of the evidence in 2014 gives recommendations for doctors to use salicylic acid as the first choice of treatment, with or without duct tape over it, but not to use duct tape alone. Cryotherapy isn't usually any more effective than salicylic acid and can have more side effects, but may be used as a secondary line of therapy.

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