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Molluscum Contagiosum in Children

Molluscum contagiosum in children is a major cause of concern, it spreads very rapidly and takes a while to cure, unless tackled immediately. Find out all about this skin disease and how to prevent it.
Rohini Mohan
Molluscum Contagiosum is a self containing viral infection that is caused by a DNA pox virus known as the molluscum contagiosum virus. It usually affects the skin, though sometimes it may appear in the mucous membrane as well. This is a form of pox which is not similar to chickenpox, though it does spread through skin contact, sharing clothes, coming in contact with infected toys and other items.
Molluscum contagiosum usually appears in the age group of 1 to 10 years, through social contact with other children in playschools, classrooms, playgrounds, cafeterias, as well as swimming pools. It is not dangerous and is fairly common in healthy individuals, who have a strong and balanced immune system. The virus is self-limiting and usually disappears on its own without any medications within 6-8 weeks. For children, it is advisable to get treatment because of their low-tolerance to itching and burning, which makes it hard on them to avoid scratching and bursting the boils.
Being a viral infection, touching parts of the body with the same hands, ensures that the blisters spread further. Scratching and bursting the boils, can sometimes leave long-lasting scars and pits on your child's skin. However, these scars are not usually permanent and fade with time. In serious cases of outbreak, the autoinoculation may cause viral rashes to persist and reappear for at least 8-14 months.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not advisable to wait for this viral infection to disappear on its own. Not when it affects a child or elderly people. The reason being, that children do not share the same tolerance level as teenagers/adults, and thereby kids suffer a lot more, due to the discomfort these skin bumps cause. Secondly, these blisters cause severe embarrassment and snubbing of the child, especially among fellow classmates and strangers.
Symptoms
  • The pox lesions that appear are always flesh-colored with possibly some puss like substance within.
  • They are dome-shaped and 1-5 millimeter in shape and dimpled from the center.
  • They mostly appear on the face, neck, torso, arms and legs.
  • Sometimes eczema may develop around the area of the boil.
  • There are small red rashes all over the body that look like small bubbles on the child's skin and there is a lot of itching being experienced.
  • The virus remains localized to the first layer of the epidermis and does not have its roots digging deeper into the skin.
  • These boils will be clustered together covering smaller areas of the skin.
  • Excess growth may cause bacterial infection and may cause the rashes to bleed a bit.
Treatment
Cryotherapy or Freezing
Doctors may use cryotherapy which is often used to freeze the affected areas with liquid sprays that contain liquid nitrogen. This decreases the cellular metabolism as well as reduces the inflammation and numbs the area. It dries out the boils, causing it to harden, which makes it easier to scrape-off the bump. This treatment is highly effective and causes slight discomfort. It isn't as painful, as people make it out to be.
Scrapping the Boil
If there are not many boils and the boils are large, the doctor will simply scrape-off the blister with a curette/lancet/scalpel to remove the mollusca from the center of the boil. A few swift slashes is all it takes to remove these boils, after which the area is cleaned and coated with ointment. The boils will thereafter be covered with round band-aids.
Preventive Measures
Certain preventive measures must be taken in order to avoid this infection. Firstly, if you are made aware that some other child in the class or any social group has contracted the virus, you must instruct your child to avoid any physical contact with the infected student. Make the child stop going to swimming pools and gyms. In case your child has this infection, make sure that all the blisters are covered with round band-aids, whenever the child is out in public or at school. This will prevent other children from contracting the infection.
Natural Remedies
Natural remedies also help in disinfecting the area, such as tea tree oil, neem oil and leaves as well as Australian lemon myrtle, which must be applied after it has been diluted in olive oil. This method showed a 99% reduction in the disease as per a 2004 dermatological study on molluscum contagiosum. However, this method may not cure the infection completely, though it may manage to suppress it.
There is no official vaccinations for this infection as of now. These preventive measures may sound extreme, but are the only ones that work swiftly and effectively. Since this is a viral infection, make sure that you consult a specialist, for any medication, or ointment.