Friday, January 21, 2011

The Duct Tape Method

One of the first book I bought when I started running ultras was “Fixing Your Feet” by John Vonhof. One section that intrigued me was the section on plantar wart removal using duct tape. See, I’d had a small wart (Eeewww!) for a while and although it didn’t bother me, having it removed using liquid nitrogen didn’t appeal to me. Many years ago, I had a wart burned on my thumb so many times that I lost count and it always came back until one day I got rid of it using some kind of acid coated tape. Also, a burned wart can hurt a lot and prevent you from running for a few days and who wants that?

I’ve also tried one or two commercial liquids. Usually, the wart ends up bleeding and it hurts like hell when I put the stuff on and I just quit before the wart is gone. The nice thing about the duct tape is that it doesn’t hurt.

So in the Fall of 2009 I made a half-ass attempt to use the duct tape method. It didn’t work. I would find the piece of tape stuck to my sock somewhere, or I would pick the wart and it would start bleeding. Eventually I just gave up. But the damage had been done and I believe that those bleeding episodes allowed the wart to spread and by the Summer I ended up with a small cluster around the original one. Damn.

My doctor assured me that the duct tape method did indeed work. She also recommended a cream called Aldara, which is supposed to trigger some kind of immune system response. So this Fall, I decided to be more careful and get rid of the fuckers. Finally, after almost 5 months of walking around with a piece of duct tape stuck to my right heel, I can claim victory.

If you decide to try this method here’s my advice:

Keep it Clean

To make sure the tape sticks, I bought boxes of 100 Alcohol Swabs. I would always clean leftover adhesive. Also, this process removes any dirt or skin oil that could prevent the adhesive from sticking.

Use BIG pieces of tape

The first time around, I tried using fairly small pieces of tape that would cover a little more than the wart. Those pieces would immediately come unglued and end up stuck to my sock somewhere. This time around I used big sections of maybe 1inx2in (the width of the roll).

Do NOT pick at it

This is probably the hardest part. You always feel like you could just peel it off. You can’t. The things feed off blood vessels and every time you start digging into it you will start bleeding and that blood can spread the virus around. If it happens, make sure to use your alcohol swabs to clean everything and use duct tape to stop the bleeding.

You can try Aldara(tm)

That shit is expensive, but my insurance covered it. Warts are caused by a virus and Aldara is some kind of antiviral. You will need a prescription from your doctor. I would put a drop on each wart 3 or 4 times a week, rub it in using a Q-tip or something and then tape right over it. I have to say that it seemed most effective on the small secondary warts. I had two good-sized ones that didn’t seem to be bothered by it but it probably did help.

Use an Emery Board (or equivalent)

Basically, I used some kind of rough stone tool I bought at Shopper’s Drugmart to gently scraped to top layer of skin and (hopefully) dead wart. Key word is “gently”. Don’t overdo it or you’ll end up bleeding. Scrape, clean, Aldara (optional), tape.

Change the tape every day

The book says to keep the tape on for 6 days before doing the scraping-cleaning-taping routine. Good luck with that. The tape WILL move around and the resulting strips of glue on your foot will stick to your sock and that can be annoying. I found I just HAD to change the tape every day to keep things nice and clean.

Don’t run long with the tape on

I sometimes ran with the tape on for as long as an hour but for anything longer, I just took it off and cleaned the area before my run. The tape always comes unglued and ends up in a ball somewhere in your sock. Not something I want in there for 3 or 4 hours. Put a nice fresh piece of tape right after you clean up and it’ll stick real good.

Be patient

It takes a while. My small ones went away fairly fast but as I mentioned earlier, it takes months to get rid of larger ones. Still, it doesn’t hurt, you can run, so who cares?


Georgia Snail said...

I had one on th ebottom of my foot in high school, hurt to walk on it...I ended up going the liquid nitrogen route...not fun, but effective!

HollyV said...

I battled this for YEARS and tried everything... including liquid nitrogen (several times), all the over-the-counter remedies, duct tape... I did not try the med you recommended because it wasn't offered to me by my doctor.

For years they just kept spreading, and nothing I did worked.

Then one day, after faithfully using Soluver plus for several months, they all just were gone, just like that. It was bizarrely sudden. I guess the virus finally died? I dunno... but they disappeared and haven't returned! I still have the soluver in case they do...

Unknown said...

Informative (and funny). I have one that is affecting my ability to run well. I feel it with every step... painful and annoying!