Molluscum contagiosum; at a glance
- Best Results1-8 weeks
- Treatment Recovery2-6 days
- Procedure Time5 minutes
- Skin SpecialistDr Sarath Bodapati at Cutis Dermatology
- Duration of ResultsPermanent
- Back to WorkNA
About Genital Warts
Molluscum contagiosum is a common viral skin infection that causes small raised spots to appear on the skin. This infection is common in children & in young adults. It can spread to different areas on their own body & is very contagious. A dermatologist can diagnose & effectively treat molluscum lesions.
Disclaimer: this section is written for the management of molluscum in adults, for lesions in the genital areas. For molluscum treatment in children, please consult a pediatric dermatologist at Cutis Dermatology, Brisbane.
FactsFacts On Molluscum
- Molluscum in adults can be sexually transmitted
- Basic skin care & hygiene outlined below can reduce spread & transmission
- Most cases resolve within 18 months
- A dermatologist can speed up resolution & cure molluscum within one session
- Molluscum in children follows a different diagnostic approach & treatment algorithm
- Dr Sarath at Cutis Dermatology, Brisbane can provide a solution
What is molluscum & what does it look like?
Molluscum presents as raised, round, skin-colored bumps, typically 2 to 5 mm in diameter. These bumps have a small dent or dot at the top near the center.
This viral infection can occur on the limbs, trunk & frequently in the genital areas. Molluscum contagiosum is not always considered a sexually transmitted infection because you do not need to have had sex to become infected.
How do dermatologists diagnose molluscum?
Our dermatologist, Dr Sarath at Cutis Dermatology, Brisbane will diagnose molluscum contagiosum as soon as he examines your skin. Occasionally molluscum contagiosum looks like other skin conditions such as genital warts, Fordyce Spots, pearly penile papules & other sexually transmitted conditions. Most cases do not require testing to confirm molluscum.
What is the best Molluscum Treatment?
The good news is that lesions of molluscum will spontaneously resolve within 12 to 18 months as your immune system kicks in. The flipside is that there are effective treatments for molluscum, especially if it involves the genital areas. Treatments include freezing, hyfrecation, creams, tablets & lasers.
What is the fastest way to treat molluscum?
Dermatologists don’t muck around with molluscum, especially if it involves the genital area. We employ superfast methods to clear lesions, often within one to two sessions. We use a combination of-
- Freezing, de-roofing
- Hyfrecation or laser ablation
- Adjunctive topicals to upregulate your immune system
The ideal treatment will depend on the number of molluscum lesions & your previous attempts of removal. Dr Sarath will discuss these options with you during the consultation.
What is hyfrecation & how does it work?
Hyfrecation employs electrical current to burn away skin lesions. It is commonly used for warts caused by the human papillomavirus (e.g. genital warts, verrucas). It is also effective for the removal of lesions caused by molluscum. It is usually performed under local anesthetic in a clinical setting. Treatments are painless, & if performed carefully, will not result in scarring of the genitalia.
What creams are used to treat molluscum?
Creams are used to upregulate your immune system in order to clear molluscum virus. They are most effective & useful in non-genital areas as they all cause skin inflammation. For resistant cases of molluscum, under supervision, they can be used in the private parts. Topicals include-
- BPO or benzoyl peroxide (see the hack in Davin’s viewpoint below)
- Salicylic acid
- Imiquimod (probably the best topical to use)
- TTO or tea tree oil
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Can tablets help?
Oral cimetidine alters the way specific immune cells respond to the chemical histamine. This is usually reserved for those with extensive molluscum and can take up to 16 weeks to have an effect. Zinc sulfate can also improve your immune system & clear molluscum lesions.
Who treats molluscum at Cutis Dermatology in Brisbane?
Dr Sarath Bodapati manages molluscum in male patients (STD spread molluscum).
Dr Heba Jibreal & Dr Esh Perera managages pediatric cases of molluscum contagiosum.
Disclaimer: I may be involved in a second option of diagnosis & or management, but I do not see this condition in private practice.
Will molluscum go without treatment?
Most cases of molluscum will self-resolve within 12 months without specific treatment. Once your immune system recognises this virus, it will slowly clear lesions in the genital area. A dermatologist can accelerate this process for you.
How did I catch molluscum?
The virus can be caught in two ways.
1. Close contact with something (object) that has a virus.
Molluscum can be gotten when you use a towel that is affected. You can also get it when you touch clothing that is infected, or commonly via water borne contacts.
2. Making direct skin-to-skin contact
Molluscum contagiosum is mostly gotten by children because they have several direct skin-to-skin contacts with many other people.. Adults can get this virus via close sexual contact. Individuals can spread molluscum contagiosum to other parts of their body by scratching bumps on their skin, then touching the uninfected skin can result in new molluscum lesions.
Can I catch molluscum again?
Getting infected with the virus may not always produce a long lasting & protective immunity, hence you may get reinfected with subsequent exposures. Unlike other viral infections such as genital warts, molluscum is not known to have such a tendency to remain in your body. That means if new lesions appear after all lesions have been treated. It is likely to be due to a new infection rather than reactivation of the virus.
Does my sexual partner need treatment?
Treatment is only required when molluscum lesions are present. Asymptomatic partners do not require any testing or treatment. Remember, this is highly contagious, so take the necessary precautions to avoid spreading the virus.
When can I have sex again?
Molluscum is highly contagious & is passed through sexual contact. Condoms will reduce the risk of spreading the virus to sexual partners. Once the lesions of molluscum resolve, you will not be contagious.
How to avoid Molluscum contagiosum spreading at home?
To reduce the risk of spreading molluscum to other parts of your own body you should avoid shaving or waxing of affected areas. Hand washing is super important as the virus is easily spread. Maintaining healthy skin by keeping it dry will reduce the chances of spots becoming infected with bacteria is also important.
You should make every effort not to pass the infection on to others. Do not share towels, clothing, bedding & personal items. Lesions should also be covered prior to using swimming pools. Above all, never share a bath as lesions are easily spread through water.
How to clear molluscum from a homeopathic or natural POV?
Sure, everyone wants a natural solution for molluscum, so, if you are not in a hurry & don’t mind some skin irritation in the genital areas, give this a go.
- Supplement with zinc sulfate tablets. Double dose the RDI. You can get this from most health food stores. Persist for 12 weeks
- Add tea tree oil to the lesions of molluscum. Apply as directed to the areas using a cotton bud. Start off daily, increase as tolerated to twice a day. Modulate the inflammatory response of each area. Do not overcook it in the genital area. Dermatologists hate tea tree oil, not because it is natural, but because of the high rate of allergic contact dermatitis. It accounts for up to 5% of allergic reactions seen in our clinic.
Davin’s viewpoint: genital molluscum treatments
Molluscum has two peaks; childhood years (usually via swimming pools & contact with other children), & young adults (most, but not all cases are sexually transmitted). There are treatments for different age groups, in addition to the location of molluscum.
Firstly, diagnosis. Molluscum tends to be flesh coloured with a central dell or umbilication (depression). Warts on the other hand are more ‘solid’, without a central dell &, in most cases verrucous. Pearly penile papules are on the glans penis, whilst Fordyce spots are smaller, yellow in color without a dell.
Treatment is rather straightforward. Simple cryotherapy is effective, whilst if you are super careful, using a sterile needle angled obliquely can ‘rupture’ the enclosure. This was my preferred treatment (when I treated molluscum nearly two decades ago). A steady hand with a simple instrument can be super effective. From there I try to create controlled inflammation with a topical applied to a few lesions. The trick is to modulate the inflammation, not over cook it. My favorite was with simple Benzac AC or benzoyl peroxide at 10%, applied to half a dozen lesions with a cotton bud. The trick is to concentrate a moderate amount of inflammation in just a few lesions themselves, not all. The reason? Up regulation of your skin’s immune system to wipe out the rest- the good old bystander effect.
Failing that, the next topical of choice is Aldara or imiquimod. This off label treatment upregulates cytokines to destroy the virus. Application ranges from 2 to 3 times a week, to once a day for a period of 2 to 6 weeks. Side effects include skin irritation, tiredness & flu like illness. Be guided by your treating dermatologist.
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