The Toronto Dermatology Centre is one of the top places in Canada to manage your skin infections such as molluscum contagiosum. Our staff of outstanding dermatologists offer both a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis of your skin, and also discuss all the treatment options for this annoying and often stubborn viral infection.
What is Molluscum Contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is a common skin disease caused by a virus which affects the top layers of the skin. Similar to warts, this virus enters the skin through small breaks in the skin. It does not affect any internal organs and is not dangerous to your health.
What Do Molluscum LOOK LIKE?
Molluscum are usually small flesh-colored or pink dome-shaped growths that can become red or inflamed. They may appear shiny and have a small indentation in the center. Because they can spread by skin-to-skin contact, molluscum are usually found in areas of skin that touch each other such as the folds in the arm or the groin. They are also found in clusters on the chest, abdomen, and buttocks and can involve the face and eyelids.
How Do You Get Molluscum?
The molluscum virus is transmitted from the skin of one person to the skin of another person. It occurs most often in cases where skin-to-skin contact is frequent, in young children - especially among siblings, or in swimming pools. If growths are present in the genital area, molluscum can be sexually transmitted.
Who is Most at Risk to Get Molluscum?
People exposed to the molluscum virus through skin-to-skin contact have an increased risk of developing these growths. Children tend to get molluscum more often than adults. It is common in young children who have not yet developed immunity to the virus.
Does Molluscum Contagiosum Need to be Treated?
Many dermatologists insist on molluscum contagiosum treatment because the growths are easily spread from one area of the skin to another. Some growths may appear as others are going away. However, molluscum will eventually go away on it's own without leaving a scar. It may take from 3 months up to 3 years for all of the molluscum to go away. They may be more persistent in people with a weakened immune system.
How Do Dermatologists Treat Molluscum?
Molluscum contagiousum treatment is similar to the way warts are treated. They can be frozen with liquid nitrogen, destroyed with various acids or blistering solutions (eg. Cantharone), treated with an electric needle (electrocautery), scraped off with a sharp instrument (curette), treated daily with a home application of a topical retinoid cream or gel, or a topical immune modifier (eg. Imiquimod). Some discomfort is associated with freezing, scraping, and using the electric needle. If there are many growths, multiple treatment sessions may be needed every 3-6 weeks until the growths are gone. An option, especially with young children, is not to treat molluscum and wait for the growths to go away.