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Medical... Duct Tape?

As they say: if it can’t be fixed with duct tape, it can’t be fixed. And it turns out this saying holds true, in some cases, even for the body.

As backcountry athletes we spend a lot of time, and rely heavily, on our feet. And it comes with the territory that injuries, illnesses, and other problems are bound to happen. Fortunately, there are several precautionary and post problem steps we can take. In my experience as a military medic, without always having quick access to clinical settings and assets, I had to find alternative and improvised treatments for aliments. This is one that I've tried, tested, and found to work very well without resorting to intracate or pricey procedures.

One complication for anyone that spends a lot of time on their feet, especially in less than sanitary circumstances, is the dreaded plantar wart or veruca plantaris. The plantar wart is a virus introduced through direct contact or very small breaks in the skin, more often, on the soles of the feet but sometimes also on the toes. They have been known to manifest after an extended period from the initial infection, but you will definitely recognize their presence once they do. Plantar warts are not a huge problem but are certainly a nuisance. And no one in this community likes to be held back by something so miniscule, yet so debilitating.

At first they appear as a slight puncture or disturbance of the outer layer of skin on the bottom of the feet and produce slight located discomfort when pressure is applied, i.e. walking. At this early stage, however, they may be hardly noticed outside of a minimal annoyance. As they develop and grow they appear more like a traditional wart with a whitish cauliflower top and may protrude from the skin’s surface. It’s at this stage that the wart really allows its presence to be known. The affected person may feel as through they are continually stepping on a pebble either while walking or even from the pressure of a shoe against the bottom of the foot while worn.

No matter what stage, it has been shown that by simply applying a segment of duct tape (brand and color doesn’t matter) over the wart and leaving it in place over several days or weeks can remove the wart completely. This practice is actually recognized by dermatologists as a viable way to treat the materialization of plantar warts (not necessarily warts on other parts of the body), though the reason duct tape works isn’t fully known.

It’s fine to change the piece of tape periodically for cleaning of the affected area or even checking progress as long as there is no extended period that the wart goes uncovered, even while sleeping, bathing, and other activities. It’s best just to apply the tape and forget about it.

Depending on the severity of the wart depends on the length of time it will take to remedy its torment. But rest assured this method works and displays just one of many reasons duct tape deserves a spot in your med kit.

With patience and consistency you'll be comfortably on your feet pursuing the backcountry before you know it.

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