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How to Remove the Dead Tissue of a Wart

By Barb Nefer ; Updated July 27, 2017

Treating a wart on the hands, fingers or soles of the feet usually involves killing the wart tissue. This may be done at home by applying over-the-counter (OTC) wart treatments. The tissue must be removed periodically as it dies off between chemical applications; eventually, the entire wart will be gone. The process is safe, but the tissue must be removed carefully to avoid damaging the surrounding skin or spreading the wart.

Soak the wart before starting the dead tissue removal process. Submerge your hand or foot in warm water and let it soak for 10 to 20 minutes to soften the tissue. This will make it easier to remove.

Rub off the dead tissue with an emery board or pumice stone. Do this gently or you may go too deep and damage the surrounding healthy issue. You should not feel any pain if you are doing it correctly because the dead tissue does not have any feeling.

Clean the area around the wart with mild soap and water and dry it thoroughly. Moisture encourages wart growth so drying the area completely will help prevent the wart from spreading.

Reapply the OTC medication you are using to kill the wart tissue. The Mayo Clinic recommends doing this once or twice a day. Repeat the process until the entire wart is gone, which may take several weeks when using a typical salicylic acid product.

Tip

You can use duct tape to kill the wart tissue if you don't want to use an acidic medication. Various studies, including one published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, have shown this treatment is effective. Leave the duct tape in place over the wart for six days straight. Replace it if it falls off. Remove it after six days and use the emery board or pumice stone to rub off the dead tissue again. Continue this six-day cycle of covering the wart and removing the dead tissue until it has completely disappeared.

Warnings

Never reuse a pumice stone or emery board that was used to scrape away dead wart tissue. Reusing them can spread warts and cause new ones to grow in the area where you use the stone or board. Throw it away when the wart is gone so you won't accidentally use it for something else.

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