Molluscum Contagiosum Treatment
Molluscum Contagiosum is a very common condition caused by a pox virus. The virus affects the outer layer of skin and causes tiny white bumps that have a central pit. It is most commonly seen in children but can affect adults as well. Most of these bumps range in size from the size of a pinhead to the size of a pencil eraser. Though they can be found anywhere on the skin, they commonly affect areas of thinner skin such as elbows, knees, groin and buttocks. Molluscum can spread to other areas of the body if they are scratched and they can be contagious from person to person.
What treatments are available?
Molluscum, if left untreated, can eventually go away by themselves; but this process can take years for complete resolution. Because these bumps can spread and become irritated, Dr Myers uses all treatment options available to effectively treat this condition. The treatment depends on the age of the patient and the size and location of the growths. The goal of treatment is to stimulate the body’s immune system to recognize the molluscum virus and develop an immunity to it. Treatment options include:
- Cantharone (cantharidin, bug juice, or beetle juice), a blistering agent originally made from beetles, is applied with a wooden applicator to the molluscum lesions. The medicine should be washed off in 3-4
hours. A small blister usually forms between a few hours to one day after washing off the compound. This treatment is useful because the application is not painful. At times, the child can be quite sensitive and extensive blistering may occur or no blisters may form. Although the blisters are uncomfortable, they are very superficial and resolve within a few days.
- Cryotherapy: Freezing with liquid nitrogen is another form of treatment. Liquid nitrogen is applied as a fine mist from a dispenser. This feels hot for a moment and then may form a blister or irritation at the site. This helps recruit the body’s immune system to the area.
- Curettage (removal with a curette) is scraping off mollucum or squeezing out the core in the center. Both are effective treatments for molluscum. This is a treatment that we sometimes perform after numbing the area with a topical numbing cream (EMLA or LMX).
- Imiquimod (Aidara or Zyclara) topical cream will cause the skin cells to make interferon, the body’s natural virus-fighting chemical. Imiquimod may be applied to help the child develop immunity. This helps the immune system destroy the virus.
- Veregen (sinecatechins 15%) is another product similar to Imiquimod. It is from a green tea extract. It is actually the first botanical drug approved for prescription use in the U.S. It is used similar to Imiquimod, but more frequently.
Dr. David Myers
Dr. David Myers is a board certified dermatologist and Fellow of the American Society for Mohs Surgery. His expertise and attention to detail make him a trusted doctor in his community.