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Molluscum Contagiosum (cont.)

What Are Home Remedies for Molluscum Contagiosum?

In healthy individuals, molluscum contagiosum is a benign, self-limiting condition that will typically resolve spontaneously on its own with expectant management. It can take anywhere between six to 12 months for the lesions to disappear on their own, though in rare cases it can take up to four years. Once the diagnosis of molluscum contagiosum is made, initial treatment measures at home should be directed at preventing the spread of the virus to other individuals. Also, scratching the lesions should be avoided to prevent the spread of the virus to other parts of the body and to prevent potential secondary bacterial skin infections.

What Are Treatments for Molluscum Contagiosum?

Treatment for molluscum contagiosum is not always necessary, as the lesions typically disappear and heal without scarring in healthy individuals. Especially in young children, the decision to treat a minor self-limiting condition must be weighed against the potential physical pain and psychological hardship associated with some treatment procedures. However, in certain clinical situations, treatment for molluscum contagiosum may be considered and undertaken. The different treatment options, as well as the associated risks and benefits, should be discussed with your health-care professional. They will recommend the most effective treatment approach based on your age, the location and number of lesions, and the presence of any underlying medical problems. In general, treatment is aimed at preventing transmission and autoinoculation, and some individuals also elect to undergo treatment because of cosmetic concerns or for persistent lesions. Those individuals with a weakened immune system often do not have an extremely effective response to therapy, and a long-term response is often difficult to achieve.

There are several different treatment options available for molluscum contagiosum. Some procedures may require multiple treatments and multiple office visits, and the potential side effects will vary with the procedure, but may include pain, skin irritation, blistering, skin pigmentation changes, and scarring. The following procedures can be performed in the office by your health-care professional:

  • Curettage: the use of a small instrument to scrape and remove the lesions from the skin
  • Cryotherapy: the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze and eliminate the lesions

What Medications Treat Molluscum Contagiosum?

There are a variety of topical medications that can be used to treat molluscum contagiosum. The particular agent chosen will depend on various factors. Your health-care professional may use any of the following topical agents, which are applied directly to the lesions:

  • Trichloroacetic acid
  • Salicylic acid
  • Potassium hydroxide
  • Tretinoin cream
  • Cantharidin
  • Imiquimod cream

Cimetidine, the anti-ulcer and anti-heartburn oral medication, has been used in younger children for the treatment of molluscum contagiosum as an alternative to other more potentially painful therapies. Its overall effectiveness has been questioned.

As previously noted, patients with weakened immune systems can be difficult and challenging to treat, and complete resolution of the skin lesions is often not possible. In addition to some of the treatments outlined above, various antiviral agents, such a cidofovir, ritonavir, and zidovudine, have been used with some success to treat severe molluscum contagiosum in some immunocompromised patients. For patients with AIDS, the most effective results are often achieved after the initiation of medications that target the HIV virus and boost the body's immune system.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/31/2017

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Descriptions of molluscum contagiosum have been in the medical literature since 1817.

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