Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum are smooth wart-like growths that are caused by a virus. They can be itchy and the skin around the growths may become infected, many have a central pit where the virus bodies live. The bumpsmay resolve on their own but they can persist for up to 2 years. The molluscum are contagious and can be spread via direct contact.

Although these growths are typically self resolving, they can become irritated and spread. Depending on the size and the location of the growths, different treatment options are available. Cantharidin, a blistering agent made from beetles, is applied with a wooden applicator to the warts during the office visit. The medicine should be washed off in 1-2 hours. A small blister usually forms in a few hours to one day. When the scab falls off, the growth is gone. This treatment is useful because the application is not painful; it is used carefully and selectively on the face and in skin creases. Occasionally no blistering occurs. Sometimes, the patient is quite sensitive and extensive blistering is seen. This is a scar free treatment but blisters can leave a discoloration. Although blisters are uncomfortable, they are very superficial and resolve within a few days. Compresses with lukewarm water and breaking the blisters with a sterile needle may help.

Freezing with liquid nitrogen is another form of treatment. Liquid nitrogen often gives a burning sensation and then may form a blister or irritation at the site. Another way to remove molluscum is by scraping the bump or removing the center, a treatment that is performed after numbing the area with a special cream. All forms of treatment may cause some discomfort, which is usually eased by acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

It is important to know, molluscum may form while existing ones are being treated. Any lesions large enough to be seen will be treated. Multiple treatments are usually required. If molluscum recur or new lesions present, just make an appointment for further therapy.

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Sand Dermatology

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