Q:Our 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Molluscum contagiosum. Her pediatrician told us that it will go away on its own, but it seems to be spreading. Is there anything we can do?
A:Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection that causes flesh-colored pearly papules (or bumps) on the skin. The lesions typically have a dimple in the center and contain a white, waxy core.
Molluscum is very common and typically affects children between the ages of one and 10. As the name suggests, it is contagious and spreads by direct contact. It can also spread via objects such as towels or toys that have come into direct contact with the lesions. Individual lesions will resolve in several weeks; however, new lesions can appear. It can takes between six months and two years for the viral infection to resolve and for a person to become free of lesions.
There is no treatment that irradiates the virus itself. Individual lesions can be treated; however, new lesions may still occur until the body's immune system destroys the virus. Treatment options for the lesions include surgical removal, laser treatment, cryotherapy (or freezing) and topical treatments. Because most treatments are slightly painful and can result in scarring, pediatricians often advise foregoing treatment.
Cantharidin, or "beetle juice," is a popular treatment for children. This substance is typically used only by dermatologists. The application is non-painful. Afterward, the lesions will blister. Left untreated, Molluscum heals without scarring.