They look like small pimples initially before becoming pearl coloured raised bumps. In most instances there are about half a dozen spots, and they usually appear on the nappy area, tummy, face, arms and legs. But in some children there can be a large number, particularly if there is a history of eczema. They are slightly itchy at times. They are caused by a virus which is found in humans only.
How do you catch Molluscum Contagiosum?
Most commonly it is spread between family members when using a bath. It is also found in public swimming pools and lives for a while on towels, face cloths and bath toys. It can take weeks to months for the spots to appear after your child has had contact with the molluscum virus. They can be spread by touching the molluscum and scratching elsewhere.
When Should Molluscum be treated ?
In many cases there is no need for any treatment as they are harmless, will disappear and there is no scarring. However in certain circumstances treatment is definitely required
- Those children who have eczema and hence a large number of lesions
- If they become infected from scratching
- When they are causing distress, for example when on the face
- When there are a large number of lesions
What is the treatment ?
The goal of treatment is to irritate the lesions, which results in the body discovering the virus and the immune system eliminating it. There are a number of physical and chemical irritants which can do this. Note that aggressive treatment can lead to scarring.
- Occlusive tape – duct tape. Apply over the molluscum and leave for 48 hours then remove. May need several treatments
- Acne medication Benzac gel and then covered with tape is more effective
- Medicated creams available only from dermatologists are also effective when molluscum is particularly bad.
- Infected molluscum will need an antibiotic ointment such as bactroban to eliminate the bacteria
- The good news is that often only a few lesions need to be treated and the others will disappear by themselves.
How do you prevent the spread of the virus ?
To avoid spreading the virus the following will help
- Try to use showers instead of baths
- Clean bath toys after every bath
- Do not share towels and face cloths.
- Dry infected areas last.
There are no reasons to be excluded from school or daycare due to molluscum.