Most common skin condition, Molluscum Contagiosum

From diaper rash to eczema to warts, your child's skin can play host to a seemingly endless variety of lumps, bumps and rashes. Although often itchy and uncomfortable, most are benign conditions that can be easily treated or controlled with readily available treatment. Some are the result of allergies or skin irritants, while others are caused by viruses. One of the most common, although maybe not the one with the most recognizable name, is molluscum contagiosum.

Molluscum is a common skin growth caused by a viral infection in the top layers of the skin. It's easily spread by skin contact, entering through small breaks in the skin or through hair follicles. The molluscum "bumps" are usually small, shiny, flesh-colored or pink dome-shaped growths, often with a small indentation in the center. They can appear in clusters on different areas of the body, such as the chest, abdomen, arms, groin or buttocks.

The virus that causes molluscum, which belongs to the family of viruses called poxviruses, can spread from child to child through skin-to-skin contact. The virus is easily shared with family members. Kids can also contract the virus by bathing or swimming in a pool with an infected child.

Although molluscum growths will eventually go away on their own without leaving a scar, because it could take from six months to five years for all of them to go away, and because they're so easily spread to others, most physicians advise treatment. Your child's doctor may remove the growths by:

  • freezing them with liquid nitrogen.
  • destroying them with various acids or blistering solutions.
  • treating them with an electric needle.
  • scraping them off with a sharp instrument.
  • treating them daily with a topical retinoid cream or gel.
  • eliminating them with the user of laser therapy.

While it's best for your child to avoid contracting the virus at all, it may be difficult, especially for siblings who share such close contact at home. However, having them avoid bathing together or coming into contact with the actual lesions will reduce their risk of infection. But if your child does sprout these growths, not to worry. They are treatable and won't leave any lasting scars.

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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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