Molluscum Contagiosum is a common skin disease caused by a virus which harmless flesh tone or pink raised bumps. At first, the molluscum spots look like pimples. They then become round, pearl colored lumps that have a white mark or core in the center. Usually they appear on the underwear area, stomach, face, arms and legs. Sometimes the molluscum may look like other skin condition, such as warts, chickenpox, and even skin cancer.
Molluscum is contagious and can be spread from person to person or to different areas in the same person. It can also be spread by sharing towels and clothing. Most people get about 10 to 20 bumps on their skin. If a person has a weakened immune system, many bumps often appear. Usually it does not need any treatment. Good personal hygiene can help prevent it spreading.
Most of the time, Molluscum does not need any treatment. The spots usually disappear over a period of time as the body fights and kills the virus. A small number of people can have the spots for several months or years. Aggressive treatment may cause scarring and for this reason, it is best to try simple treatments first. Simple treatments are designed to irritate the spots. This is to encourage the body’s immune system to recognize the virus and destroy the infected cells.
Cover the spots with an occlusive (watertight/waterproof) tape such as duct tape or elastoplast. Leave the tape on for two days, and then pull it off. This irritates the spots. This may need to be done several times to try to remove the central core of the spot. Make sure the adhesive part of the tape directly touches the molluscum. Just covering the molluscum with a bandaid will not work. Betadine may also be applied to the molluscum before applying the tape.
If tape stripping by itself is not effective, applying an irritating solution such as Benzac gel (benzoyl peroxide 5%) or Retin-A (tretinoin cream) to the spots and then taping them can help. The solution makes the spot become inflamed and needs to be applied carefully to avoid the surrounding skin. The tape stripping then needs to be done each day. See your physician first before attempting.
Dr. Wright personally assesses each patient’s skin condition through a detailed skin and health history, review of previous treatments and skin examination. She specializes exclusively in Cosmetic Dermatology so that the removal of these nuisance bumps will have the best cosmetic outcome while minimizing the risk of scaring. There are many treatment options that Dr. Wright can prescribe based on the patient’s age, health, where the bumps appear on your body, and other considerations. Treatment may be necessary if;
- If you have not been successful with home treatment
- It has spread to other parts of your body
- It has spread to other people
- It is growing out of control in people who have a weakened immune system
In-Office Treatments may include:
Cryosurgery: Dr. Wright freezes the bumps with liquid nitrogen. To learn more click here.
Curettage: Dr. Wright may use a small tool called a curette to scrape the bumps from the skin.
Topical (applied to the skin) therapy: Dr. Wright can apply various acids and blistering solutions to destroy the bumps. These work by destroying the top layers of the skin. Tricholoracetic acid is often used to treat people who have a weak immune system and many bumps. When a patient has many bumps or large bumps, a repeat of the procedure every 3 to 6 weeks may be required until the bumps disappear.
Laser surgery: Dr. Wright uses a laser to target and destroy the bumps. This can be an effective treatment for people who have a weakened immune system.