Molluscum Contagiosum

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What is the treatment for molluscum contagiosum?

For most patients, no treatment is needed because the lesions spontaneously disappear in about six to 12 months, although for a few, it may take up to four years. Discuss any treatment method with a doctor. Cryotherapy (freezing), curettage (cutting out the lesions), and laser therapy also may remove lesions. In addition, creams that include podophyllin, salicylic acid, tretinoin (Retin A, Atralin, Renova, Avita, Altinac), and cantharidin may remove lesions. Physicians may use cimetidine (Tagamet) to treat molluscum contagiosum in small children. A new medication, imiquimod (Aldara), helps to strengthen the skin's immune response and may help to get rid of the lesions in some people. Topical desonide cream (a low-dose corticosteroid) reduces any symptoms that may accompany scratching the nodules.

Are there any home remedies for molluscum contagiosum?

There are a wide range of home remedies available for this disease. People have tried remedies such as apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, alcohol, and elderberry extract. Some are easily available at pharmacies (for example, ZymaDerm). Duct tape occlusion treatment has been suggested by some clinicians. Patients should discuss the situation their doctor before trying these remedies.

What is the prognosis of molluscum contagiosum?

Most people who get molluscum contagiosum have an excellent prognosis because the infection is usually self-limiting; it typically affects only the skin and resolves without treatment over about six to 12 months in most people. However, immunosuppressed people have a more guarded prognosis as the disease may persist for years and become widespread on the skin; some people may get secondary bacterial skin infections; the major complication of the disease. Some treatments listed above (cryotherapy, curettage, laser, and some chemical treatments) may leave small scars. Even if you get the disease and are cured, you can be reinfected and get the disease again.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/15/2015
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