Molluscum Contagiosum

What is Molluscum Contagiosum?


Molluscum Contagiosum (MC) is a viral skin infection seen most commonly in young to school-age children. As its name suggests, the MC virus is contagious and spread primarily through direct skin to skin contact, but also by sharing towels, clothing and gym mats.  
The prevalence of MC seems to be on the rise. A recent meta-analysis suggests a prevalence in children between 5 to 10% with a tendency towards higher rates in 1 to 4-year-olds.¹  There is evidence for increased risk of MC infection in those who have eczema², bathing with an infected sibling, and possibly through swimming pools³, though this should not be a reason to limit swimming.

Frequently Asked Questions

What treatments are availble in a dermatologist's office?

At Home Treatments

A variety of small studies have examined several treatments applied in the home by the patient or parent. These include the use of salicylic acid, lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, retinoids (e.g. tretinoin), Imiquimod, etc. Some of the studies have shown good efficacy, however virtually all of these are limited by local reactions including itching, irritation, burning, redness, scabbing and crusting.
Recently, A small Chinese prospective study demonstrated about a 50 percent response rate of molluscum after exposure to infrared-generated heat (44 degrees Celsius) for 30 minutes once weekly, for a maximum of 12 weeks. Use of a heating pad may generate similar conditions (AAD meeting news, August 3, 2017).


Society of Pediatric Dermatology video on Molluscum Contagiosum and Warts

1. Fam Pract. 2014 Apr;31(2):130-6. Epidemiology of molluscum contagiosum in children: a systematic review. Olsen JR1, Gallacher J, Piguet V, Francis NA.
2. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006 Jan;54(1):47-54. The epidemiology of molluscum contagiosum in children. Dohil MA1, Lin P, Lee J, Lucky AW, Paller AS, Eichenfield LF.
3. Pediatr Dermatol. 2005 Jul-Aug;22(4):287-94. Epidemiology and impact of childhood molluscum contagiosum: a case series and critical review of the literature. She Braue A1, Ross G, Varigos G, Kelly H.
4. Pediatr Dermatol. 2009 Jul-Aug;26(4):425-6. Treatment of facial molluscum contagiosum with trichloroacetic acid. Pediatr Dermatol. 2009 Jul-Aug;26(4):425-6. Bard S, Shiman MI, Bellman B, Connelly EA.
5. Society of pediatric dermatology molluscum contagiosum parent handout.
6. Int J Dermatol. 2006 Feb;45(2):93-9. Childhood molluscum contagiosum. Brown J, Janniger CK, Schwartz RA, Silverberg NB.
7. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2000 Sep;43(3):503-7. Childhood molluscum contagiosum: experience with cantharidin therapy in 300 patients. Silverberg NB, Sidbury R, Mancini AJ.
8. Pediatr Dermatol. 2007 Mar-Apr;24(2):192-4. Modified curettage technique for molluscum contagiosum. Martín-García RF, García ME, Rosado A.
9. Pediatr Dermatol. 2011 May-Jun;28 Intralesional immunotherapy with Candida antigen for the treatment of molluscum contagiosum in children. Enns LL1, Evans MS.


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