Clinical Health Updates

Duct tape ineffective for common viral warts

Clinical Question:
Is duct tape an effective treatment for common viral warts in adults?

Bottom Line:
Occlusion with transparent duct tape is no more or less effective than occlusion with moleskin. The low success rate overall argues against any effect for occlusion. One interesting suggestion is that since hypnosis has been shown to be an effective treatment, perhaps that is the mechanism by which duct tape occlusion works, and perhaps adults are less suggestible than children. While this may not be the final word on this topic, it is discouraging news for the good folks at the American Duct Tape Council.

Wenner R, Askari SK, Cham PM, et al. Duct tape for the treatment of common warts in adults: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. Arch Dermatol 2007; 143: 309-13.

Study Design:
Randomized controlled trial (double-blinded)

The authors evaluated the efficacy of duct tape occlusion therapy for the treatment of common warts in adults. They did a double-blind controlled clinical intervention trial in a Veterans Affairs medical center. A total of 90 immunocompetent adult volunteers with at least 1 wart measuring 2 to 15 mm were enrolled between October 1, 2004, and July 31, 2005. Eighty patients completed the study. Patients were randomized by a computer-generated code to receive pads consisting of either moleskin with transparent duct tape (treatment group) or moleskin alone (control group). Patients were instructed to wear the pads for 7 consecutive days and leave the pad off on the seventh evening. This process was repeated for 2 months or until the wart resolved, whichever occurred first. Follow-up visits occurred at 1 and 2 months. Complete resolution of the target wart. Secondary outcomes included change in size of the target wart and recurrence rates at 6 months for warts with complete resolution. There were no statistically significant differences in the proportions of patients with resolution of the target wart (8 [21%] of 39 patients in the treatment group vs 9 [22%] of 41 in the control group). Of patients with complete resolution, 6 (75%) in the treatment group and 3 (33%) in the control group had recurrence of the target wart by the sixth month.