What Are Those Bumps?


Kids Health Watch is brought to you by our friends and Magnolia Springs Pediatrics


Hey guys! Today, we will talk about a rash that has been popping up on many kids lately and is causing stress for many parents. That rash is called molluscum contagiosum and is very common. All three of my kids have had it and were fine. Molluscum is viral-based “bumps” that typically show up on kids and usually bothers parents more than the child! Today, we will address what molluscom is, how it’s transmitted, the typical course, and the treatment approach.

So, first, what is molluscom? It’s a viral-based infection 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 with lesions (for example, sharing towels, clothing, and toys). It typically affects kids from one to ten years old but can affect any aged person. So how do you know if you have it?

Molluscum lesions start as small, painless, flesh-colored papules or nodules with 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 over the course of 9 to 18 months! The first bumps will often 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 skin’s surface, and once the bumps are gone, you are in the clear. The molluscum bumps will not lie dormant and then pop up again years later.

So what can you do? Different surgical options include scraping, needling, and freezing, and medicine options include “beetle juice.” However, these treatment options can lead to trauma for the child, scarring, and/or skin discoloration. We usually intervene only if the child has secondary bacterial infections like MRSA or has 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! That’s right, one and a half years!

Does that mean you must keep your child away from all other kids for one and a half years? Of course not! Molluscum is so common that keeping your child away from someone who 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!

Robert L. Rux, M.D. is a Board Certified Pediatrician at Magnolia Springs Pediatrics. Originally from Mobile, he attended medical school at The University of Alabama School of Medicine (UAB) and completed residency at The Children’s Hospital of Alabama (UAB).


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