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Facial Pox Virus: Molluscum Contagiosum


Mol­lus­cum Con­ta­gio­sum is a skin dis­ease that is caused by the pox virus. The virus enters the skin through a break in the skin. The virus then incu­bates and then growths appear. Mol­lus­ca usu­al­ly look like small flesh col­ored or pink dome shape growths. The have a small cen­tral inden­ta­tion or white core. They often become red and inflamed. They are often found in the folds of the skin but can also appear on the abdomen, chest, groin and face.

It is spread per­son to per­son by direct skin-to-skin con­tact. It can also be spread by scratch­ing an affect­ed area and then touch­ing anoth­er unaf­fect­ed area. Last­ly it is pos­si­ble to spread the dis­ease by com­ing in con­tact with an object that has touched an infect­ed area such as a tow­el, an arti­cle of cloth­ing or a toy.

Treat­ment is sim­i­lar to the treat­ment for warts. Growths can be frozen, destroyed with acid or blis­ter­ing solu­tions, or scraped off with a curette. Often more than one treat­ment may be needed.

Chil­dren are most at risk as they have not yet devel­oped immu­ni­ty to the virus.

Mol­lus­cum Ques­tion & Answers

Q: How long does a mol­lus­cum out­break last? 

A: Even with­out treat­ment the mol­lus­cum virus will resolve on its own, but it may take a while. Here in our office we rec­om­mend treat­ing the virus to pre­vent fur­ther spread to oth­er areas of the body and to pre­vent spread­ing the virus to oth­er chil­dren. It is not uncom­mon that a patient may need mul­ti­ple treat­ments set about four weeks apart before they clear the virus.

Q: How do you treat molluscum?

A: The two most com­mon ways we treat mol­lus­cum here in our office is with liq­uid nitro­gen, which is a cold spray that is applied direct­ly to the mol­lus­cum. The oth­er way we com­mon­ly treat mol­lus­cum is with can­throne (nick­named bee­tle juice), which is a blis­ter­ing agent that is also applied direct­ly to the mol­lus­cum. Both meth­ods try to wake up the patien­t’s immune sys­tem to fight off the virus. We also pre­scribe med­ica­tions that you can use at home on a dai­ly basis to help treat these lesions.

Q: How do I know if my child has molluscum?

A: We rec­om­mend bring­ing your child in to our office to have them eval­u­at­ed for this con­di­tion. Mol­lus­cum look like small flesh col­ored or pink bumps on the skin that has a cen­tral white pore. Click the link below to see a pic­ture of Molluscum.

Q: Is mol­lus­cum the same as warts?

A: No, they are not the same. Even though mol­lus­cums are some­times referred to as water warts”, and both con­di­tions may have a sim­i­lar appear­ance on the skin, mol­lus­cum is caused by the pox virus. The pox virus is not the same virus that caus­es warts.

Q: How do you pre­vent spread­ing molluscum?

A: You can keep the areas with the mol­lus­cum cov­ered with a Band-Aid or cloth­ing dur­ing the day when your child will be around oth­er chil­dren. Avoid shar­ing tow­els, cloth­ing and per­son­al prod­ucts with oth­ers who are not infect­ed. Also, advise your child to avoid scratch­ing or pick­ing at the bumps and to wash their hands frequently.

Q: Can you be re-infect­ed with the mol­lus­cum virus after you are cured?

A: Yes. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, recov­ery from one infec­tion does not pre­vent future infec­tions. That is why it is impor­tant that you avoid skin-to-skin con­tact with an infect­ed individual.

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