Syracuse Online

Warts and Duct Tape

A Scientific Recap

Published July 7, 2003 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

In April 2000, I wrote about my battle against plantar warts and my victory with the help of duct tape. Three years later, I remain wart-free as the medical literature swells with studies and articles praising the virtues of duct tape.

After battling plantar warts for several years with over-the-counter salicylic acid, physician-administered liquid nitrogen and surgical excision, a brief tip in a running magazine suggested trying duct tape. I applied a 2-inch piece of tape to my foot, and left it on for a week. When I removed the tape, the wart peeled off with it, never to return.

I recently discussed my victory with my physician, who provided a medical basis for the method. The plantar wart is an active virus that lives within the skin. Applying the duct tape denies the virus its supply of oxygen, angering it and inflaming the site. The immune system notices the inflammation, and directs its wrath against the virus.

When the duct tape brings the virus to its attention, a healthy immune system destroys the virus within days, and completely eliminates the wart. This medical explanation makes it necessary to reduce the intensity of the workouts during the treatment to further strengthen the immune system. Thus, duct tape does not work against the wart through its adhesive properties, but rather indirectly through the immune system.

An October 2002 article in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine reported on a study by Dr. Dean R. Focht, III at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, involving 61 patients age 3 to 22. Dr. Focht treated half the patients with cryotherapy, freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen, and the other half with duct tape.

The duct tape treatment involved covering the wart with a piece of tape for six-and-a-half days, then removing the tape and cleaning the wart with an emery board. The wart was left uncovered for twelve hours, then a new piece of tape was applied for another week. The process was repeated four times.

Eighty-five percent of patients using duct tape were healed within a month of treatment, compared to sixty percent of those using cryotherapy. The study concluded that .duct tape occlusion therapy was significantly more effective than cryotherapy for treatment of the common wart..

As with all ailments, preventing of plantar warts carries a smaller price than treating them. The virus that causes warts is contagious, and thrives in hot and humid places like showers, swimming pools and locker rooms. Instead of walking barefoot in public places, wearing an inexpensive pair of nylon flip-flops may delay the encounter with duct tape.

© 2003 The Post-Standard.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at