Molluscum Contagiosum

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What is Molluscum Contagiosum ?

Child with small bumps on their face caused by molluscum contagiosum virusThis is a common condition caused by a virus. It mainly occurs in children and young adults, but can occur in older patients. It is contagious from person to person. It also may be spread to different areas of the body by touching or scratching the molluscum.

In young adults it is often a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Because it spreads so easily, it is important to keep washcloths, towels, bedding and clothing separate from other family members.

The molluscum contagiosum virus produces a small bump that usually has a yellow center. Sometimes the skin surrounding the bump(s) will develop redness and pus. The bumps may go away by themselves without treatment, after months or years.

How is Molluscum Contagiosum treated?

  • Liquid Nitrogen: This is a freezing treatment that may cause blistering, crusting and occasionally mild scarring or abnormal skin color.
  • Curette Removal: This removes the central portion or core. This procedure may cause mild discomfort and scarring. You may apply an anesthetic cream before hand so that the procedure hurts less.
  • Cantharone®: This is a strong medicine, which will cause blisters. Leave it on for 4-6 hours or until the next morning as directed by your physician. Then, thoroughly and gently wash off the dry medicine. If the area hurts before you are to remove the medicine, you may go ahead and remove the tape and medicine. If the tape and dry medicine are difficult to remove, soak the treated area in warm soapy water for ten minutes. If a blister forms, gently make a small nick with a needle and press out the fluid with a tissue. You may have pain for several days after the medicine is removed. You may take Tylenol® or soak the treated area in cool water to relieve the pain.
  • TCA (trichloroacetic acid): This is a mild acid which acts as a peeling agent. It is applied in the office only and may cause a mild burning sensation after it is applied. The burning sensation disappears quickly when the medicine is removed with an alcohol swab. You may notice mild irritation or peeling of skin for a few days after treatment.
  • Retin A® (Tretinoin)