Molluscum contagiosum is a very common viral infection of the skin. Although you can see it in pretty much anybody, it’s primarily found in the pediatric population, from ages one to ten. Mollescum contagiousm is caused by a DNA pox virus. Now, a pox virus is very contagious.
Not only contagious from one person to another, you can spread it between
individuals, but as the patient starts to scratch, they will spread it among themselves, from one body part to another. Now, the advantage of a DNA pox virus, although it is much more contagious, it’s pretty easy to treat. But to make the diagnosis at home, there are actually flesh-colored, little bumps that are smooth on top, almost round. And, like I said, they are the color of the skin so they tend to blend in but if you look real close, there’s an umbilication, which means a small dent, within the the top of the bump. And if you see a flesh-colored little bump
in a cluster, with that little dent, or umbilication at the top, that’s your diagnosis of mollescum contagiosum. You can’t see the virus, so unless you know specifically where they came into contact with it, a child at daycare, a sibling they were
wrestling with or sharing toys. If you don’t know that specific information, we may never know where the virus came from. It really is little more than a nuisance, and it’s somewhat temporary. The studies will show that it can last anywhere from a few weeks or months to as long as 18 months. If we choose to treat it, there are over-the-counter medicines that can be tried. There are things from salicylic acid to tea tree oil, patients will try. There’s little data on exactly how effective those are, but people will try it. It’s easy at home, and it’s easy to do. If we’re going to treat it within the clinic, there are prescriptions that we can write. The first one being Aldara. Aldara works in the body’s immune system and causes the immune system to rise up and interact with the cream and what’s caught in the middle
is that pox virus, the mollescum contagiosum. The advantage is you can do it within the
privacy of your home, it’s painless, which is important for a pediatric patient. Cantharone is also a painless topical treatment that works probably a little faster than the home treatment, but it does have the inconvenience of having to come see me every couple weeks until they go away. Another treatment is liquid nitrogen, which is a cold spray. It’s about 320 degrees below zero cold, so it does sting. And sometimes it’s a little too traumatic for the pediatric patient. And lastly is a small surgery. A scrapping can be done to make them go away. Usually we try one of the other options before we get to any kind of surgery.