Molluscum Contagiosum: What is that?!

What is molluscum?

Molluscum contagiosium is a common wart virus caused by a poxvirus.  Though molluscum can resemble warts, the virus that causes them is different. It occurs most in children, aged 2-12 years.

Signs and Symptoms

Molluscum causes 1 or more tiny (from pin head to ¼ inch) skin colored waxy bumps on the skin.  They can develop anywhere, and if scratched or rubbed by clothing, more can develop in the same area.  The firm bumps can be indented or umbilicated and may have a white center.  Thankfully, molluscum are not painful, but can occasionally be itchy.

How is the diagnosis made?

The diagnosis is easy for your provider to make through the history and visualization of the skin.

Treatment

Most of the time, we recommend that molluscum be left alone.  With time (months) they resolve on their own with no treatment.  Sometimes, ignoring molluscum is not an option.  In cases where they are spreading quickly (because they are in an area where there is skin on skin contact, like under the arm), are painful, your child continues to pick at them, or they are causing a cosmetic problem, treatment may be indicated.  There are various treatment methods and your provider can help determine what might be best for your child.  One of the easiest methods to try at home is the duct tape method.  It is described here in Dr. Barton Schmitt’s Clear Triage handout.

Prevention

If your child already has molluscum, to prevent more from developing, advise them to avoid scratching.  Keeping nails cut short can also help.  Also avoid rubbing the affected area with a washcloth or towel and then touching this to other skin.  To prevent passing molluscum to others, avoid bathing with or sharing a hot tub with others and avoid sharing towels and washcloths.  If the child is in contact sports, it will be helpful to cover molluscum if located in an area where there could be skin to skin contact.  It takes 4-8 weeks after contact for molluscum to develop.

Other useful information

There is no need to stay out of school or activities due to molluscum.  If the child is in contact sports, it will be helpful to cover molluscum if in an area where there could be skin to skin contact.

References

ClearTriage.  Copyright 2000-2019 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.   Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP

 

Author
PAA Advance Practice Providers Our PAA APP's include: Annie Croft, Pam Dietrich, Amber Mercer, Erin Moore, Nikki Nutter, and Emily Woodard

You Might Also Enjoy...

Infant feeding support: fed is best!

Infant feeding is rarely the perfect picture we imagine. While this can be true, it can be more challenging than we anticipate. Feeding your baby will be a journey with highs and lows, but having support along the way is crucial. We are here to help!

Is it infected? Guidance for mosquito and tick bites.

In this article, Dr. Martin, a pediatrician at Cook Children's explains how to determine if an insect bite is infected or is instead something known as 'Skeeter Syndrome' or a large local reaction. She also reviews how best to handle tick bites

Drowning Prevention

In this post Dr. Diane Arnaout´╗┐, a Pediatrician at Cook Children's discusses a topic we must keep at top of mind at all times, especially in the summer when swimming is such a common activity to keep us out of the Texas heat.

Farewell from Dr. Mowry

Dr. Mowry was such an amazing part of our PAA family and we wish her all her family all the best in Denver, CO. She wanted her patients to know how much she treasured the relationships she had with each of you. Her farewell letter is below.

Tongue Ties

Dr. Diane Arnaout, a pediatrician with Cook Children's consults with a speech language pathologist, a dentist, a lactation consultant, and an ENT and synthesizes the most up-to-date data on tongue ties.