A great man once said, "Politics is inherently stupid." That great man was me.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Duct Tape No Longer a Cure For Warts?

An American study conducted in October of 2002 concluded that duct tape was an effective and cheap method of removing common warts (Verruca vulgaris). Wart sufferers near and far rejoiced. The thinking behind the study went that the irritation produced by chemicals in the adhesive provoked an immune reaction at the site of attachment, thus eliminating the wart as a by-product.

Today, wart sufferers may have a reason not to stick to the novel remedy. A new study conducted by Swedish researchers appears to contradict the results of the previous study, and claims that duct tape is no more effective than a placebo in curing warts.

Well, the CBC makes it sound like it's a damning condemnation of a single erroneus study. While phoning test subjects to see if their warts disappeared is not nearly as effective as checking them directly, this new study isn't the last word on the duct tape debate. Through my university I have a subscription to a wealth of scientific journals, something I'm sure the CBC reporter doesn't have (and even so, he or she wouldn't necessarily understand them - journalism isn't exactly a scientific profession). So after searching the literature, I've actually found a number of articles confirming the duct tape cure as a success. The following are two of them:
  • Ibarra V, Blanco JR, Oteo JA, Rosel L. Efficacy of cidofovir in the treatment of recalcitrant molluscum contagiosum in an AIDS patient. Acta Derm Venereol 2000;80: 315–316.
  • Focht III, D.R.; Spicer, C.; Fairchok, M.P. Duct tape removes warts. Journal of Family Practice, Feb2003, Vol. 52 Issue 2, p111, 2p.
The first study is not as valid because they only used one patient as a test subject - not exactly a large test group. However, the second study used a significant sample size and the warts were observed by trained personnel in a hospital setting to determine if they had disappeared or not (it also had the amusing footnote that "one patient enrolled in the duct tape arm lost his study wart in a trampoline toe-amputation accident.")

So what does this mean for you wart sufferers? Put simply: the jury is still out. But until a greater body of evidence is accumulated, it probably won't hurt to keep that little strip of duct tape on that unsightly blemish.

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