Researchers have found another reason to stock up on duct tape, the versatile household fix-it item: it helps get rid of warts.
Pediatric dermatologist Bernice Krafchik of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children is a convert to duct tape therapy after reading a new study in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
"There's no downside to it," said Krafchik. "So if parents say, 'well this little kid goes to school and nobody will hold their hand because they happen to have warts,' then duct tape is a very good alternative and it's not painful."
When researchers at Madigan Army Medical Center near Tacoma, Wash., put duct tape head to head with liquid nitrogen, the conventional wart treatment, the tape won, hands down.
Duct tape is cheap and it seems to be both safe and effective, the researchers found.
If the body is left alone, the immune system will eventually kill the wart by attacking the virus that caused it. But that can take years.
Researchers believe duct tape speeds up the process by irritating the wart, which prompts the immune system to attack the virus right away.
They suspect duct tape works better than, say, masking tape for the same reason it works well on so many other jobs the grey, heavy duty tape is really sticky.
The study looked at 61 patients between the ages of three and 22 but only 51 people completed the study.
In the experiment, patients wore duct tape over their warts for six days. The tape was then removed, the area was soaked in water and an emery board or pumice stone was used to scrape the spot.
The treatment continued for up to two months or until the wart went away.
Of the 26 treated with duct tape, 85 per cent lost their warts, compared with 60 per cent of the 25 patents who received the freezing treatment.
Comedian Red Green has made a career out of finding new uses for the adhesive. He'll tackle any project, as long as he has duct tape.
Despite the evidence of its curative properties, Green isn't sure he'd want to try it.
"I'm not so sure you'd want to automatically take a wart off," joked Green. "If I had a wart, I might want to work it into the centrepiece of a tattoo."