Hey guys! Today we are gonna talk about a rash that has been popping up on a lot of kids lately and is causing stress for lots of parents. That rash is called molluscom contagiosum and is very common. All three of my kids have had it and were fine. Today we are going to address what molluscom is, how it’s transmitted, the typical course and the treatment approach.
First, what is molluscom? It’s a viral-based infection that is in the poxvirus family and is highly contagious. It occurs in parts of the world that are warm and humid (aka Baldwin County) and is transmitted primarily through direct contact of lesions (example: sharing towels, clothing, and toys). It typically affects kids from one to ten years old, but can affect any aged person.
How do you know if you have it? The molluscom lesions start off as small, painless flesh colored papules or nodules that have a dimple in the middle. They can range in size from a pinhead to the size of a pencil eraser. They occur in clumps and can spread in a line if scratched. The difference in this rash is that it will stick around for a few months to a year and a half, and really not change, while most infectious rashes will resolve fairly quickly. The bumps can pop up anywhere. Typically, the trunk, armpits, legs and face are common places, but not on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet. Finally, the bumps will start to go through different stages. The first bumps will oftentimes get bigger and redder and then will usually rupture with a “white head” on them. Then new bumps pop up in different areas and the cycle starts all over. It’s important to know that the virus lives on the surface of the skin and once the bumps are gone, you are in the clear. The molluscom bumps will not lie dormant and then pop up again years later.
So what can you do? There are different surgical options including scraping, needling, and freezing and medicine options including “beetle juice.” However, these treatment options can lead to trauma for the child, scarring and/or skin discoloration. So, we usually intervene only if the child has secondary bacterial infections like MRSA or have severe irritation. Typically, we do nothing! The body’s immune system will fight off the molluscum on its own, but the key is to understand that the process can take a few months up to one and a half years.
Does that mean you have to keep your child away from all other kids for one and a half years? Of course not! Molluscom is so common that keeping your child away from someone that has it or away from all others if your child has it won’t help, nor will it prevent it from spreading.
So, use common sense and always wash your hands, but remember, if a rash bothers you more than your child, I can pretty much guarantee, that it’s OK!