Molluscum contagiousm is a harmless viral infection of the skin. It appears as shiny, small bumps that are flesh-colored, white, or pink in color. Sometimes you can see a white ‘pit’ in the center. Molluscum contagiosum can occur at any age but is most common in young children.
The molluscum virus is spread from the skin of one person to another. Close, direct contact is usually necessary to spread the virus, but it can be spread from shared towels or bathing with an infected person. Some experts believe that molluscum may also be spread in swimming pools. Scratching the lesions may also cause them to spread.
Molluscum are often found in clusters on the skin of the chest, abdomen, legs, groin, and buttocks. Molluscum can also involve the face and eyelids. Because molluscum is spread by skin-to-skin contact, they are often found in areas of skin that touch each other such as the backs of the knees, the inside of the elbows, the underarms, and the groin. A person may have anywhere from a few to one hundred or more lesions.
Usually molluscum resolves on its own within 12-15 months, although it may last as long as 2-3 years. Children with eczema may develop more severe and widespread molluscum and the infection may take longer to resolve. Once resolved, it is very unusual for a child to become infected with molluscum again. Exceptions may occur in children who have a reduced immune system such as those receiving chemotherapy or who have an immunodeficiency. These children are also more likely to have a more severe and prolonged molluscum infection.
It is recommended that, if possible, you keep infected areas covered with clothing while your child is at school and when he/she is playing in close contact with other children. This may help to reduce the chance of other children from becoming infected. Affected areas do not need to be covered with bandages.
Molluscum often look worse before they resolve; they may be itchy or slightly painful, and may suddenly increase in size and become red and inflamed. You should apply a topical antibiotic such as bacitracin or mupirocin to any area that appears crusted or inflamed. A bacterial skin infection may sometimes occur in the areas affected with molluscum, but this is uncommon.
In general, most molluscum does not need to be treated. When treatment is necessary, options include cryotherapy (freezing), cantharidin (a blistering medication), topical tretinoin or other topical retinoid (this medication is not covered by insurance for the treatment of molluscum as it is not FDA-approved for this indication and is used off-label). Infection may need to be treated with topical or oral antibiotics.
o Do not bathe siblings or other children together if one has molluscum
o Do not share towels
o Try to keep your child from scratching the molluscum. Use of hydrocortisone cream, which is available over-the-counter, may be helpful if there is itching
o Be patient! Molluscum is harmless and will resolve on its own