Molluscum Contagiosum: Medical Treatments and Home Remedies

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection that primarily affects young adults and children. The article discusses different types of treatment options.

MC or molluscum contagiosum is an infection of the skin that is caused due to a virus. It primarily affects young adults and children. The lesions of the skin appear as pink, white or flesh colored rounded, raised bumps. The virus is transmitted by direct contact with infected persons or objects. It is a self-limited and benign infection in individuals who are healthy and does not always require treatment. However, treatment may be required in certain individuals such as those who have weak immune systems as they may develop widespread and persistent skin lesions.

Molluscum Contagiosum Treatment

Since the infection is often self-limited in people who are healthy, treatment is unnecessary. However, issues including visibility of lesions, prevention of spread of disease and underlying atopic illness may prompt treatment.

Treatment is usually advised if lesions are present in the genital region (near or on the penis, vagina, anus or vulva).  You should visit your physician in such cases as it is quite possible that you may be suffering from another illness spread via sexual contact.

You should be aware of the treatments available on the internet as they may not prove effective in curing your disease and even cause harm.

Physical Removal

This includes Cryotherapy (the lesions are frozen using liquid nitrogen), laser therapy and curettage (the core is pierced and the cheesy or caseous material is scraped). All these options remove the lesions rapidly and should be done by a trained provider. Local anesthesia may be required to perform them and they may result in pain, scarring and irritation afterwards.

Oral Therapy

Another molluscum contagiosum treatment is oral therapy which helps in removing the lesions gradually. This option is often used for children as it causes less pain and can be done at home by parents. For children, oral cimetidine is often utilized as an alternative therapy to forego the pain accompanied by laser therapy, curettage and Cryotherapy or to avoid the possibility of scar formation. Though cimetidine is painless, well tolerated and safe, it does not show good response to the lesions of the face.

Topical Therapy

A reliable therapy for males is podophyllotoxin cream (0.5%); however, it is not advised for pregnant females as it is considered toxic to the developing baby. The cream should be applied to each lesion individually as it has a localized therapeutic effect. Some other drugs which are used as topical therapy are potassium hydroxide, salicylic acid and iodine, imiquimod (a modifier or T cell), cantharidin and tretinoin. Imiquimod is not advised as a molluscum contagiosum treatment in children due to possible side effects. All these treatments should be obtained on prescription by a physician.

Therapy for Persons Whose Immune System Is Compromised

Majority of the treatments are effective in persons who have healthy immune systems; but persons who have AIDS/HIV or other illnesses which suppress the immune system do not show response to conventional therapies. Furthermore, these therapies can’t control the illness for long term in patients suffering from HIV.

Low counts of CD4 cells are linked to extensive facial mollusca; hence, it is considered an indication of severe HIV. So far, treatments that are targeted at enhancing the immune system are considered the most effective treatment for MC in persons with compromised immune systems. In extreme scenarios, facial lesions are treated using intralesional interferon.

However, interferon has several unpleasant and severe side effects such as site tenderness, symptoms like influenza, lethargy and depression, therefore, making it a less desirable treatment option. Moreover, interferon has proved more effective in healthy individuals. Radiation therapy has also little benefits.

Home Remedies for Molluscum Contagiosum

1. Bath of Colloidal Oatmeal

Another molluscum contagiosum treatment is bath of colloidal oatmeal. It soothes itchy and irritated skin. Oatmeal that is finely ground is referred to as colloidal oatmeal. It is added to lukewarm bath water. Special triglycerides (fatty acids) are present in oatmeal, which form a coating on the skin. They are also anti-inflammatory in nature. It can be purchased from discount superstores or drugstores. It can also be made at home by grinding oats in a grinder to grind coffee bean or food processor. Test the oats by putting one spoonful of ground oats to lukewarm water. If the water is not turned milky, the oats need to be ground more.

Bath for no more than 10-15 minutes as longer may dry your skin and irritate MC. You may also mix colloidal oatmeal to a glass of water and dip a cloth in it. Then apply the damp cloth to the skin lesions.

2. Tea Tree Oil

It is another home remedy which you can buy at drug stores and health stores. Applying tea tree oil in combination with iodine two times in a day reduces lesions of MC significantly.

Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties. However, it may result in allergic reactions in certain children. You should test by applying a small amount of oil to a small area that is unaffected with MC. If no reaction occurs after 24 hours, it can be safely used. Also tea tree oil should not be consumed by children.

3. Australian Lemon Myrtle

Australian lemon myrtle is another home remedy that is used for MC. A study published in journal Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy stated that application of 10% solution of this remedy one time a day decreased symptoms by at least 90%. The lesions were reduced when the remedy was applied for 21 days regularly. It is available in health food stores. You can apply the remedy daily.

4. Coconut Oil

It is soothing oil which is extracted from mature coconut kernel. The high fatty acid content of the oil prevents drying out of skin. The fatty acids also impart the oil anti-inflammatory effects. The oil helps the irritated skin retain its moisture and reduces its itchiness. It is available at most drugstores and health food stores. Avoid perfumed oil as it may cause skin irritation.

How to Prevent Molluscum Contagiosum

One of the best ways to prevent getting MC is to avoid touching an infected person’s skin. Follow the below mentioned suggestions to prevent its spread:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water.
  • Make your children learn proper techniques of hand-washing as they are more prone to touch each other while playing and interacting with others.
  • Don’t share personal belongings such as towels, hairbrushes, bar soaps or clothing.
  • Don’t use shared sports objects which may have touched some other person’s bare skin.
  • Don’t pick or touch skin areas which have bumps.
  • Keep the lesions covered and clean so as to prevent others and yourself from getting in contact with them.
  • Don’t shave or use electrolysis on the area where there are lesions.
  • Don’t have sex in case you have lesions on your genitals.

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