Nov 9, 2006

actually, MSNBC, duct tape can cure warts

Why you should never uncritically accept the scientific findings offered in the media: they can be wrong in ways you'd never imagine.

Witness MSNBC, reporting a Dutch researcher's claim that, contrary to popular belief, duct tape doesn't cure warts.

The report abstract reveals why the study was a failure: the scientists used the wrong methods. They applied duct tape one night per week for six weeks.

How do I know they were wrong? Because I've fixed my own raging plantar warts using duct tape.

I had a cluster of plantar warts on the ball of my right foot, about the size of a half dollar, for over five years. Only this past summer did I decide to treat the warts, since they weren't going away on their own. I studied up on the duct tape cure, and followed a strict regimen for four months. They have nearly entirely disappeared. Here's what I did:

1. First, I soaked my foot for twenty minutes, and then used a nail file to debride (scrape off) the top layer of skin on the warts. (Eventually I switched to a pumice stone, which works much, much better.)

2. After drying the skin, I applied duct tape, and wore it 24-7, taking tape with me wherever I went, reapplying it as soon as it fell off (which it did, fairly often). That roll was a permanent fixture in my life for months. Don't believe me? Ask my wife.

3. Every six days or so, I would remove the tape, soak my feet again, and scrape off the skin, repeating the process.

After four months, I am nearly free of plantar warts, for the cost of a roll of duct tape and a few hours spent caring for my feet.

Duct tape works wonders, but you have to do it right.

Update: Even a cursory rendering of previous research shows a huge discrepancy in methodology.

Update II: The WebMD report paints a much better picture of the Dutch study. However, this method still isn't good enough:
Once a week, the children uncovered the wart, soaked it in warm water for five minutes, then rubbed the wart gently with a pumice stone.
You have to soak for at least 15 minutes to soften the skin, and rub vigorously with a pumice stone. It's not easy to remove the top layer of (dead, stinking) wart.

(Better wash your hands well, too.)

2 comments:

Aaron said...

gross

Jim Anderson said...

Yep. Mine didn't hurt, though, so they were pretty easy to ignore--that is, until they started growing.