Though usually painless, warts are a nuisance and should be treated to prevent complications of the mild human papillomavirus infection. Many over-the-counter products and doctor-administered treatments effectively dissolve warts on any skin surface. When flat or common warts form on soft or sensitive skin areas, such as the stomach, it is important to test products and check for signs of skin irritation before completing a treatment regimen.
After showering, individuals infected with warts should towel dry the skin around the wart and apply a product containing salicylic acid, such as Compound W, directly to the growth. Although this process of dissolution is gradual and therefore must be applied for several weeks in most cases, the salicylic acid treatment is effective in dissolving most warts that appear on the back of the hand. Due to the similar softness in the skin between the back of the hand and the stomach, it is generally safe for stomach application.
Cantharidin activates a chemical reaction that dissolves skin warts at a much faster rate than salicylic acid. Although it is a strong chemical and therefore more likely to cause a skin rash, burning sensation or other stomach irritation, warts often disappear after a single application. Cantharidin is a liquid that must be applied by a doctor directly to the wart and covered with a bandage for 24 hours. The dead, blistering skin of the wart can be removed using nail clippers or an emory board, although it is best to leave it alone and let it disintegrate by itself.
Aerosol wart removers, such as Dr. Scholl's FreezeAway, are a common over-the-counter treatment with a high rate of success. They are designed to freeze a wart by concentrated application of an aerosol spray stored at minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If this application is not strong enough to destroy the wart, patients can make an appointment with a dermatologist, who can apply a stronger freezing compound. Liquid nitrogen achieves a temperature of minus 160 degrees Celsius, but especially stubborn warts may require a second application one to three weeks later.
Individuals who suffer from warts and extremely sensitive skin may find the best treatment is to avoid chemicals altogether. Placing a strip of duct tape directly over the wart will eliminate its source of oxygen. This will prevent further growth and eventually suffocate the existing wart, causing it to disappear. This technique should not cause any skin irritation, but it is critical to keep the tape on at all times except while bathing, and apply a new strip immediately after towel-drying the skin. Do not remove the tape at any other time to check the progress of the treatment, because any exposure to air will only extend the life of the wart.