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How to treat molluscum contagiosum

There’s several ways you can treat molluscum contagiosum as well as buying a topical therapy like MolluDab®. You’ll find more information about the main alternatives below, together with the official NHS advice on how to treat it.

How to treat molluscum contagiosum

In many cases doctors will leave molluscum to go away on its own without any treatment. However, it can take 18 months or longer for the bumps to clear as during this time new spots may develop while old spots are healing. There are treatments available which can help speed up the process of clearing the spots. Historically, several approaches have been used by healthcare professionals:

Cryotherapy

The spots are frozen with liquid nitrogen to remove them. Each spot is frozen for five – ten seconds so that a layer of ice forms over the spot and surrounding skin. Several sessions may be required before each spot clears.

Curettage

The spots are scraped off with thin metal instrument called a curettage after local anaesthetic injection by the general practitioner or dermatologist.

Diathermy

Diathermy is an electrically induced heat or the use of high-frequency electromagnetic current. A local anaesthetic will be applied before having this type of treatment.

Pulsed-dye lasers

This is a relatively new type of treatment for molluscum. It uses a powerful beam of light to destroy the cells that make up each spot. A bruise is left which should heal within one to two weeks.

These treatments can be painful and cause scarring or infections and aren’t generally suitable for children.

Topical therapies

There are a range of topical therapies used which includes salicylic acid and potassium hydroxide. These work by irritating the spots and causing them to become inflamed. The immune system then detects the virus and is able to clear the spots. Usually, these treatments are available to self-treat at home.

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Are there any complications with molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum doesn’t usually cause complications and the infection will eventually clear up on its own. However, in some rare cases the spots may become infected with bacteria.

This is more likely to happen if your child or you have atopic eczema, (where the skin is particularly sensitive to substances such as dust mites or pollen) or if you have a weakened immune system. If the spots do become infected, treatment will be needed with antibiotics.

You may be referred to a specialist in hospital if you have spots on your eyelids, near your eye, or your eye is red or painful. In rare cases, a secondary eye infection may develop, such as conjunctivitis.

What is the NHS advice on molluscum contagiosum?

Many doctors and dermatologists will advise against treating young children will molluscum if they feel that it would cause the child unnecessary pain and distress.

Treatment is usually only recommended for adults and older children who have spots that are particularly unsightly and are affecting their quality of life. Visit the NHS website for more information about molluscum contagiosum.

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AL/3775c/05.19/0.001. Date of preparation: May 2019