Duct tape is a popular home remedy for warts. While covering a wart with duct tape may reduce the risk of the wart spreading to other parts of your skin, more research is needed to support its use as a treatment for warts.
Warts, also known as common warts, are small bumps on your skin that are caused by a virus. They’re most common in children and young adults.
Warts usually go away without treatment, but they can take several years to fully go away. However, some people might want to get rid of their warts faster.
Duct tape is a popular home remedy for warts, but it’s not a good idea for everyone. Keep reading to find out whether you should use duct tape to get rid of a wart.
To use this remedy:
- Apply a small piece of duct tape directly to the area of your wart and go about your day.
- Once every 3 to 5 days, remove the duct tape and rub the wart with an emery board or pumice stone. You may also consider soaking the wart in warm water while it’s exposed.
- Replace the duct tape with a new piece after 10 to 12 hours of air exposure.
This process is called “duct tape occlusion,” and it should remove the wart, layer by layer. It may take several weeks for this method to fully get rid of a wart.
Some doctors recommend using salicylic acid as an over-the-counter topical treatment for warts. You can find a wart removal treatment that contains salicylic acid at nearly any drugstore. Using a treatment like this in addition to duct tape could help your wart go away faster.
Warts are a virus within the body. They can reoccur.
Unlike other treatments, duct tape doesn’t seek to treat the underlying virus that causes the wart or to identify the “root” of the wart. Instead, covering a wart with duct tape prevents the virus from spreading further by stopping the wart from contacting other parts of your skin.
Duct tape is made of three layers:
- a strong, stretchy layer that resembles a fabric
- a mesh layer
- an adhesive chemical layer
The combination of strength in the upper layers and chemical adhesion in the bottom layer might be a clue to what makes duct tape work to treat warts.
The duct tape adheres to the top layer of the wart. When you tear the tape off, a layer of the wart will often come off with it. This may be less painful than remedies like freezing. Additionally, it uses fewer chemicals than over-the-counter topical treatments and is more cost effective than laser treatment.
One 2003 study claims that duct tape is 80 percent effective for speeding up the rate at which warts go away.
More clinical research is needed to discover if, and why, duct tape works to get rid of warts.
Avoid using duct tape on a wart that is:
- near your genitals
- under your armpits
- close to one of your mucous membranes (inside your nose or mouth)
Plantar warts, which occur on your heels or other parts of your feet, may be more resistant to these treatments because the layers of skin on your feet tend to be more difficult to remove.
If you have genital warts, visit a doctor. Human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes topical and genital warts, can be transmitted sexually. Certain strains of HPV are associated with a greater risk of cervical cancer.
Since genital warts are transmitted sexually, get tested to see which strain of HPV you have before you try any home treatments for your warts.
Duct tape can cause redness, bleeding, rashes, and pain upon removal. If you have sensitive skin, this method is not a good choice.
Talk with your doctor before trying home remedies if your warts:
- are painful
- interfere with your daily activities
- crack and bleed
These are symptoms of other types of skin growths.
Using duct tape to treat warts won’t work for everyone. Nevertheless, there have been studies supporting the use of treating warts with duct tape, and it is probably a low risk option.
Other approaches, such as topical salicylic acid and freezing (cryotherapy), might be a better choice for some warts.
If you try this remedy without success, remember that most warts will eventually go away without treatment. Talk with a dermatologist if you’re concerned about a wart’s appearance, or if you have warts that keep coming back.