10 Treatment Options for Molluscum Contagiosum

Written by on July 29, 2012 in Skin Diseases - No comments

Photo of patient with Molluscum Contagiosum.

A viral infection much like warts, molluscum contagiosum is a common, very  easily transmissible infectious disease of the skin.  Known to spread quickly through day care centers, it is also considered a sexually transmitted disease in adults.

Molluscum appear as small pimple-like bumps on the skin and have a central “umbilicus”, which is the viral core.  Lesions can occur anywhere on the skin, and often are seen where skin rubs together, such as the inner thighs, or the upper arms and the flanks.  Athletes, especially wrestlers, because of the skin to skin contact, are very prone to this infection.

Treatment options for molluscum  are many, meaning that none are perfect!  Some people (parents of small children, for example) choose  to leave them alone, waiting for the immune system to finally fight them off.  However, it can take many months or years for this to happen, so the following are therapies to consider.


10 Treatment Options for Molluscum Contagiosum

1) Liquid Nitrogen. Also used to treat common warts, the sub-zero liquid ‘freezes’ the  bumps; this approach can be uncomfortable and leave spots behind.

2) Topical Acids.  These can be doctor -applied types like cantharidin, or over-the-counter ones like salicylic acid, also used for common warts.  This may take time, and require repeat treatments.

3). Curettage. This procedure requires a dermatologist to use a curette ,  a sharp spoon-like instrument, to scrape them off, removing the viral core.  The value of this procedure is that the lesions are removed quickly, though small pockmarks may be left behind.

4) Tretinoin. This vitamin A gel is also used to treat acne, and sometimes peels and irritates the skin, resulting in removal of the molluscum.

5) Imiquimod. A cream that stimulates the person’s immune system, this prescription cream inflames the skin as it works, so results in itching and some discomfort.
6). Veregen Cream. A green tea extract that is approved for genital  warts, some dermatologists use it off label with success for molluscum.
7). Cimetidine. An oral medication used to reduce gastric acid, this medication has an immune modulating effect.
8). Laser. What won’t we dermatologists try lasers for ?!  The laser can , with pinpoint accuracy,  burn afflicted cells , leaving surrounding tissue unscathed.

9). Tea Tree Oil, Oregano Oil, and Other “Natural” Products. Anecdotally, these may be of value in some patients.

10).  Duct Tape. Occlusion of the lesions, like with warts, can sometimes be effective.

Often, multiple therapies are required to finally rid oneself of this annoying, but non-dangerous infection.  As with other infectious, contagious diseases, good hygiene is critical to avoiding this viral infection.  Hand washing, avoidance of shared athletic equipment, and  early  diagnosis are all important in keeping this infection from spreading .

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