Child care: What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is one of the prevalent skin rashes that affects children that many parents are not aware or familiar with. Essentially, a diagnosis of molluscum contagiosum is often encountered with surprise as most have not even heard of it before.

Similar to warts, molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection quite prevalent among school-age children.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The lesions of molluscum contagiosum are characterized as small in size with a dome shape and a miniature dimple in the middle. Even though frequently flesh-colored and also pinkish. They are typically present alone or as a group on the axilla, trunk or the skin folds of the knees and elbows as well as the trunk.

Among many children, the condition will not cause any symptoms and the rash is simply an aesthetic concern. Others develop redness and scaling on the skin surrounding the molluscum rash that can be itchy.

Another characteristic is a plug of a cheese-like material that comes out of the middle part of the lesion.

Molluscum contagiosum

Among many children, the condition will not cause any symptoms and the rash is simply an aesthetic concern.

How is the condition diagnosed?

A diagnosis of molluscum contagiosum is based on the appearance of the distinct lesions. A diagnosis can be confusing initially especially when the lesions are still small. It usually takes a few weeks for the lesions to grow in size before they take on their distinctive appearance.

Management

Since the condition eventually subsides in about 6-9 months without any treatment, some doctors do not provide any treatment. Always bear in mind that it can oftentimes last for 2-4 years and even spread aggressively which is why others recommend treatment with the following:

  • Direct removal using a curette
  • Using a blistering agent such as Cantharidin
  • Cryosurgery or freezing
  • Tretinoin which is also used for acne

These treatment options have their share of disadvantages though. The direct removal and cryosurgery can be agonizing.

A doctor should be consulted regarding the suitable options that might include the following:

  • Simply leaving the lesion alone particularly if the child has already had them for a number of months and not spreading.
  • Direct removal using a curette or cryosurgery if the child has a few lesions. Even though the process can be uncomfortable, the doctor will consider a topical anesthetic.

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