Dr. Alan Greene on Molluscum

How should we get rid of this rash?

Question

My 4-year-old daughter has a rash called molluscum. The local doctors (who are mostly med students -- we have a teaching clinic here for the university) say the only thing they can do is freeze it off or burn it off. There must be another way to get rid of it that is not going to be painful for her. Any ideas?

Answer

Molluscum contagiousum is a common viral infection of the skin caused by a pox virus -- sort of like chickenpox. But the molluscum virus is slower, quieter, and less dramatic. It does usually go away on its own, without any treatment at all and with no scarring. But, on average, it takes six to nine months to disappear and can take quite a bit longer, especially in kids with eczema where it usually lasts a couple of years.

One treatment for it is liquid nitrogen (a brief six- to nine-second application) which may cause a bit of pain; about one-third of kids say it hurts, about one-third don't report much of anything, and about one-third say it feels weird. It can feel either hot or cold, even though it is actually very cold. Another treatment option is liquid cantharidin, which is an irritant. It usually doesn't hurt at the time, but the bumps get red and tender before they fall off. The other successful treatment is to use a comedo extractor (a little tool that pulls the plug out of the middle), which feels sort of like a shot.

With all three of these treatments, sometimes just treating a few of the bumps will cause the body to recognize the rest and get rid of them.

Less common treatment options include laser therapy or wart medications, such as DuoFilm or Verrusol.

 

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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