Is treatment of molluscum needed?
Usually no treatment is required simply because:
- There is no treatment that is both easy and very effective
- Treatment is focused on individual lesions (like normal warts)
- Individual lesions clear up on their own in a few weeks
- Teatment does not stop lesions appearing elsewhere – so you can go to the effort of sorting out a couple of lesions only for another 2 to spring up somewhere else
Most adults or parents of kids would want lesions “gone” on the face or in sensitive areas.
Treatments may be divided into home treatments, and clinic treatments.
home treatment with topical creams does not have a great evidence-base. The idea is to apply a topical cream or gel that irritates or gently inflames the skin and kick-start the immune system into getting rid of the virus early. Topicals include Potassium hydroxide 5% (not easily available in Australia) and Benzoyl Peroxide Cream (usually used as an acne preparation).
Self treatment by expressing the contents of each molluscum may be considered in older kids or adults. Doing this after a bath or shower may be easier because the skin will be softer. You can use tweezers that you have previously sterilized with boiling water. Another alternative is to use a sterile pin. Be sure to use gloves to avoid spreading the virus to yourself or another part of the body. This treatment may be painful and does not have a strong evidence-base. Really this is only suitable for adults or older children who are motivated.
Clinic Treatments are more effective and includes Imiquimod Cream (prescription-only) & Curettage (this requires a local anaesthetic). Perhaps Cryotherapy (Freezing treatment) is the most widely used treatment in a medical clinic.
It should be emphasized that the majority of people or children require no treatment at all.
Are any Precautions needed?
It’s sensible to avoid sharing towels or sharing a bath. Scratching may pass the virus onto another part of the body – so try to avoid scratching! For troublesome itching, a steroid cream may help.
Children may swim, attend daycare or school without any worries.
Guidelines do not require lesions to be covered but if your child has very few lesions in an exposed area then you may wish to cover with a bandaid.
Here’s a good Australian government health link for ways to prevent spreading molluscum.