Our 6-year-old daughter has tiny warts that appear to be spreading on her legs. A friend of mine said that they look like molluscum. What is molluscum? Should we take her to see a dermatologist?
Molluscum contangiosum 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.
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Molluscum is very common, typically affecting children ages 1-10. 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 can disappear in several weeks, however new lesions can then appear. It can take between 6 months and 2 years for the viral infection to end and for a person to become free of lesions.
There is no treatment that eradicates the virus itself. Individual lesions can be treated, but new lesions may still occur until the body’s immune system destroys the virus.
Treatment options include surgical removal, laser treatment, cryotherapy (freezing) and topical treatments. Because most treatments are slightly painful and can result in scarring, pediatricians often advise forgoing treatment.
Cantharidin, or “beetle juice,” is a common treatment option for children with molluscum. The application is not painful but the lesions will blister afterward.
Left untreated, molluscum lesions typically heal spontaneously without scarring.