Molluscum contagiosum is a common and painless skin infection caused by a molluscum virus. While this infection is painless, some report that the bumps are mildly itchy. This virus is spread through direct skin contact with an infected person. So it is common in places where materials like towels, toys, and other objects are shared. It will also spread to other areas of the body if you scratch a legion and then touch another part of your body. This virus may incubate in the body for around 2-7 weeks, however, can sit dormant for up to 6 months.
It appears as a small rash consisting of 2-20 raised, pink/flesh-colored, shiny, dome-shaped bumps with a dimple in the center. Most often, they are found on arms and legs, trunk, and face, however, can be found anywhere on the body. This virus is more common in children, though your chance of getting molluscum contagiosum increases if you live in a hot, humid place, if you have atopic dermatitis, or if you have a weakened immune system.
Molluscum contagiosum will typically go away on its own. In some cases, this infection may last up to 4 years, though most cases go away on their own in a few months. However, this virus can present differently for those who are immunocompromised. Those with weakened immune systems have a higher risk for getting this virus, and their lesions may be larger, slightly different in appearance, and may be more difficult to treat. For example, those with HIV/AIDS may have a rash of legions that are 100 or more in number when infected with molluscum contagiosum.
The rash can be removed by scraping the bumps away with a sharp tool called a curette. You can also use a freezing agent or peeling agent to remove the bumps. However, we don’t necessarily recommend using these tools due to their painful nature.
Some healthcare providers may choose to prescribe a topical cream, though many are not recommended for children.
Avoid scratching or removing lesions yourself, as it may cause your infection to spread to other areas. It may also introduce a bacterial infection.
Consider using clove oil to treat at home. First, apply vaseline or a similar product on the skin surrounding the lesion. This will keep the clove oil from burning the surrounding area. Wet the top of a Q-tip and dab the top of each lesion. There are also some homeopathic remedies that will help to decrease lesions available online or at your local drug store.
How to Promote Good Hygiene
This infection is common among children due to the tactile nature of children. Among other infections, we typically see molluscum contagiosum spread in child care and school settings. Learn how to teach your child good hygiene and protect them from preventable infections.
- Make sure the facility you attend is a clean facility. Check for clean toilets, food safety hygiene, hand washing culture, and child and staff immunization.
- Teach your child good hand washing skills. Make sure your child is washing their hands before and after eating. Wash before and after using the toilet, playing in the sandbox, handling pets, playing in the water, etc.
- Don’t pick or scratch any existing bumps or rashes. Keep lesions covered to prevent scratching or other infections.
- Don’t share personal items like towels, clothes, makeup brushes, and applicators, or sports gear.
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