What is Molluscum Contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection caused by a virus called MCV. Think of viruses as occurring in families. Just as a sister and brother are more alike than a boy and girl from different families, viruses in the same family share similar properties and behavior.
Molluscum is a member of the pox family of viruses. This family includes cowpox virus and the human smallpox virus. Other skin conditions that may seem similar to molluscum contagiosum include chickenpox, warts, lichen planus, and basal cell skin cancer. (Indeed, the fact that many conditions can appear similar to molluscum underscores the importance of consulting one’s physician.)
Fortunately, molluscum is harmless -- just unsightly. This viral skin infection causes highly contagious, raised papules, or small bumps, on the skin. Molluscum is a common infection in the United States, occurs worldwide, and equally between male and female genders, and by some estimates accounts for 1% of all diagnoses of skin disorders in the US.
Pox viruses are notorious for their ability to evade the host's immune system by both active and passive mechanisms, and this helps explain why molluscum can persist so long -- sometimes years.
How Do You Contract It?
Molluscum is common in children. In fact, it's probably the most common unheard-of skin condition around! If your child has molluscum, you become an overnight expert; if you child never gets it, you probably will never hear of it.
Molluscum occurs when a child comes into direct contact with the virus, usually from another infected child, who may or may not show symptoms. Unlike a cold or flu, the transmission of molluscum contagiosum is not airborne.
You can also get molluscum through contact with an infected wet surface, such as poolside furniture, toys, or even a recently used towel. The most frequent sites of infection are the abdomen, arms and legs, but it is also commonly seen on the face, armpits and hands. In fact, molluscum contagiosum can spread to any part of the body, except the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and scalp.
Persons with weakened immune systems, such as due to AIDS, may experience molluscum contagiosum that proves highly resistant to treatment.
What Are The Symptoms and Stages of Molluscum Contagiosum?
Typically, molluscum begins as small, painless bumps or lesions, not unlike goose bumps. This is the first of three main stages of molluscum contagiosum. During subsequent stages of molluscum contagiosum, the following can occur:
- The molluscum begin to look more like flattened moles
- The molluscum enlarge, sometimes rapidly, into raised, pearly, flesh-colored nodules. A characteristic dimple can develop in the center, but not always
- The nodules may develop a central core or plug of white, waxy material, including many virus particles.
- Scratching may spread the virus, a process called auto-inoculation. This can result in the lesions being in lines, but more commonly they occur in patches called crops
- Because the skin virus exists where there are no visible bumps, new crops can appear, over time, even after treatment of the original bumps
The challenge of coping with the stages of molluscum contagiosum comes sharply into perspective when you consider how molluscum contagiosum afflicts adults. Typically, adult molluscum contagiosum occurs on the inner thighs, lower abdomen and genitalia.
What Are The Treatment Alternatives?
Regarding the treatment of molluscum contagiosum, Mayo Clinic staff have pointed out that the virus “usually resolves without treatment within six to 12 months.” But it’s hard to imagine patiently enduring a year or more of molluscum contagiosum, as Mayo Clinic acknowledges. Staff at Mayo Clinic observe that a physician may recommend treatment for molluscum contagiosum, based on several considerations--age, medical history, extent and location of the outbreak, and expected outcome of the condition.
In the past, treatments ranged from surgical removal by scraping, de-coring, freezing, or needle electrosurgery, which sometimes resulted in scarring. Previously favored medications sometimes caused painful blistering and skin discoloration.
Since its introduction in 2003, ZymaDerm™ has been the preferred treatment of a growing number of physicians and customers. A powerful, yet gentle, ant-viral topical solution, ZymaDerm™ is applied directly to the bumps and can be safely used on the face and private areas of the skin. It is a natural, non-toxic topical liquid that has been clinically tested and is FDA approved as a homeopathic drug.
How Is Molluscum Contagiosum Diagnosed?
Diagnosis is based on the appearance of the lesion, and can be confirmed by a skin biopsy. The health care provider should examine the lesion, to rule out other disorders and to determine other underlying disorders.
What Is The Prognosis?
Molluscum contagiosum lesions may persist from a few months, to a few years, with an average of 18-30 months in children. The lesions may ultimately disappear without scarring, unless there is excessive scratching, which may leave marks.
How Do I Prevent Contracting Molluscum Contagiosum?
Avoid touching the skin lesions directly. This is more important for children, than adults, as transmission from child to adult is not common. Also, avoid toy-sharing among children with molluscum. If a child is known to have molluscum, use separate towels, and do not bathe children together.
Are There Complications?
The biggest complication is persistence and spread. Once immunity is acquired, the disease does not recur. Secondary bacterial skin infections may also occur, if there has been a lot of inflammation, or especially, scratching. That is why it is so important, in the opinion of many health care professionals, to treat molluscum contagiosum immediately. ZymaDerm™ has proved highly efficacious in the painless treatment of this troubling skin infection. At Naturopathix, we’re dedicated to scientifically providing nature’s own remedies. To find out more about ZymaDerm™, click here or contact us directly with your questions.