Warts (AKA “verruca vulgaris”) are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (“HPV”) which is the same virus that causes the itchy blisters that are found on the crotch and/or lips of the sexually promiscuous. (Or, in some cases, on their innocent victims.) But this particular event is better known by its happy, fun time name of Herpes. So think of verruca vulgaris as the bastard, red headed, stepchild of Herpes. (Hey, it’s only fitting.)
Warts are common in 70% of the worldwide population. (No, I did not pull that stat out of my ass; Look it up if you need confirmation.) They can appear at any age, usually on the extremities –hands and feet– and can grow either as a single lesion or in clusters. The kind that occur on the bottom of the foot are called plantar, as in, the name of the foot bone. But no matter which body part these repulsive little fuckers crop up, they are almost always treated with cryotherapy, that is, freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen. The expected outcome is that the wart will then dry up and fall off. Results with this sort of management have been modest, to say the least.
It has been reported by the medical establishment that cryotherapy has a 60% success rate in treating warts, which, assuming you have health insurance and/or the money, seems like it could be the way to go. But what if you’re one of the 44 million (or thereabouts) of the American population without health care or don’t have the extra scratch to private pay a doctor’s office. What, then, can you do about evicting the unsightly resident squatting on the primo real estate of your hand? Or, for that matter, any other body part.
Well I’m glad you asked! Maybe you’ve heard of the duct tape myth –it goes something like this –Covering a wart with common duct tape for several days results in killing the wart. If that sounds like a bunch of BS to you, consider yourself in good company. Upon having read about this great “cure,” yours truly jeered and laughed contemptuously, which, considering the source, was entirely appropriate. I don’t generally believe everything I read no matter where I find it –whether in print or on the web. Doubting Thomas has absolutely nothing over Doubting Peyton, that’s for damn sure. But, at the time I read about the duct tape cure, I was trying to get rid of my own unwanted visitor that was situated at the base of my index finger.
I don’t know how or why it showed up. One day the area was clear, and the next, there was this itchy bump thing that appeared out of nowhere. I had never before had a wart, and, so knew next to nothing about the causes or treatment. (It’s always funny until someone loses an eye. Or so goes the conventional joke.) But I had, however, heard about over-the-counter treatments advertised on television. So I went out to the store and bought a bottle of a well known brand name containing salicylic acid. The same medication used to treat acne.
Over a six month time frame, I went through approximately four bottles of the stuff. Each time, the viscous solution would dry to form a hard shell over the wart, and, then I’d snip off both solution and wart with nail clippers. One would think this would be the end of it, but one would be incorrect. Within record time, the wart would grow back where it had been removed. It was a lot like drop- kicking an illegal Mexican back into his own country during the morning only to find that he was right back where you ejected him from by nightfall.
Like most Americans, the health insurance I had at the time was a joke. It was going to cost extra for treatment on top of the co-pay. So I decided not to pay the ridiculous amount, and, opted instead, to handle it myself. That’s when I went searching on the web and found numerous duct tape testimonials. There were scores of people who were evidently willing to attest as to the tape’s efficacy in treating warts.
The tape being just a common household item (and not some pricey medication) there wasn’t much of a profit motive for so many to be so enthusiastic. After all, it wasn’t like anyone (save for stores selling duct tape) was going to make a buck shilling for the product. Further, given the quantity of commendations, there was just no way even one-tenth of them could have have been planted by some enterprising duct tape seller looking to pump up sales. (If you’ve ever read the comment section of well known online book sellers & such then you know exactly what I’m referring to.)
After I quit chuckling, I bought a roll of generic duct tape from an office supply store. I then slapped a big piece over the affected area. It was inconvenient initially, because keeping the area dry was next to impossible. I remember sticking my hand into a plastic sandwich baggie to protect the tape from getting wet in the shower. By the third day, the tape was peeling so I decided to remove it and reapply.
I fully expected the wart to be intact and smiling at me like a Cheshire cat, but when I pulled back the tape gingerly, I saw that it had dried up into a white, flaky mass. Pulling back the tape even more, what appeared to be a root was stuck to the adhesive and came out effortlessly and painlessly. The root reminded me of a potato “eye.” Once I cleaned up the affected area of the residue from the tape, there was a small crater where the wart had been, but it was 100% healed within 72 hours.
Various theories abound as to why duct tape kills warts. From the pine tar found in the adhesive backing to “smothering” the wart with the tape. But what I understand is that warts squat in the layer of skin that the immune system does not have access to due to absence of blood vessels. The tape somehow alerts the immune system and it takes over from there, attacking the virus and subsequently subduing it.
Note here that HPV never goes away. Duct tape does not kill the virus. Once it’s in your system, it’s yours to keep. It travels around the body manifesting itself in the form of cold sores and/or warts (non-genital) depending on how stressed the immune system is.
While there is no one definitive explanation, one thing is certain –an 85% success rate has been reported when duct tape is used versus the 60% cryotherapy rate. Bottom line: Duct tape is less expensive, and, has fewer adverse effects both physiologically, as well as financially, than cryotherapy.
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