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.)


Aaron said...


Jim Anderson said...

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