How to Trim Warts

Warts -- small, rough growths that often affect the hands and feet -- can be difficult to treat. Viruses cause warts, so just cutting off a wart won't cure it. Removing the top layer of a wart by trimming off the dead skin can make it easier for medicine to penetrate and treat the infection. This is best done by medical personnel in an office, not at home. You can use over-the-counter medications called keratolytics that dissolve the dead layer safely at home. See your doctor to receive effective treatment for warts.

Your doctor can trim the top of a wart or totally remove it in the office, using sterile equipment to reduce your chances of developing an infection. You still need follow-up medication to kill the virus after this treatment. Doctors can trim a wart with a very tiny sterile blade, or they can numb the skin with a local anesthetic and cut deep enough to remove the wart. Removing the wart allows medication to treat the virus by penetrating more deeply into the skin.

Alternately, your doctor can destroy the top layer of the wart by applying liquid nitrogen -- a much stronger application than those you can buy over-the-counter. She also can apply acids or products that cause cell death to the top of the wart. Another way to get rid of the wart is to inject substances that are toxic to the virus or that cause the body to “wake up" and recognize the infection and attack it. Creams that help the immune system recognize the wart and destroy also have benefit.

Warts usually require follow-up treatment to destroy the virus even after trimming or removal. Ridding yourself of warts may take several office treatments plus applying creams or other treatments at home between visits. Warts on the hands and feet can take many sessions to clear. Trying to cure a wart yourself may be ineffective and result in an increase in the size of the wart.