What is molluscum contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is a relatively common viral infection of the skin, characterized by small pink or white blisters, which can vary in size and are often mistaken for small warts .
Although it is more common in children, because the immune system is not yet fully developed, it can also affect adults, especially those who have a weakened immune system with certain diseases, such as AIDS , or who have undergone a transplant. The disease usually develops where the skin is thinner.
It is known by the international classification of diseases (ICD) by the code: 10: B0B1.
The molluscum contagiosum is caused by a member of the virus of the Poxvirus family. This virus develops in very hot or humid climates, and the infection can occur in different ways.
You can get the virus by touching the lesions on the skin of an infected person or an object that has also been used by that person. Some examples of these objects are:
- Bed linen;
The virus can also be contracted through water that is infected, as in the case of swimming pools and hydromassages.
It is also possible that contamination will occur through sexual intercourse. Lesions on the genitalia tend to look the same as other contagious diseases, such as herpes, or even small warts. This can end up making the treatment and diagnosis of molluscum contagiosum difficult, because people do not seek medical help because they believe it is not at all serious.
Everyone is at risk of contracting molluscum contagiosum, but some groups are more likely than others.
These groups are:
- Children aged 1 to 10 years;
- People who live in tropical climates;
- People with weakened immune systems, caused by HIV, transplants or cancer treatment;
- People who have atopic dermatitis;
- People who participate in sports that have a lot of contact.
When the virus infects the skin, there is an incubation period that lasts around 2 to 8 weeks, after which the symptoms will begin to appear.
Because it is a skin disease, the most common symptom is small bumps with some specific characteristics:
- They are small, around 2 to 5 millimeters in diameter;
- It has a dimple in the center;
- They are initially firm, dome-shaped and flesh-colored;
- They are usually painless, but may itch;
- It can turn red and end up with an inflammation.
It is also important to note that small bumps can be easily removed when scratched and / or rubbed, facilitating contamination in other parts of the body. Some of them may contain pus, which ends up making them more painful and highly infectious.
Molluscum contagiosum can develop in large quantities and in the same or different parts of the body. The most common places to happen in children are:
- Stomach and abdomen region.
In adults who maintain a sexually active life, when contaminated, the most likely places are:
- Groin, spreading upwards, in the abdomen region;
- Genital organs;
- Inner thighs.
In some rare cases, the disease can develop in other places, such as:
- Foot soles;
- Inside the mouth;
- Around the eyelid.
It is possible that some people may develop eczema around the blisters, this is due to the sensitivity of their skin. Children with atopic eczema, where the skin is particularly more sensitive to substances such as mites or pollen, are more vulnerable to developing this additional symptom.
The disease virus is highly contagious, so if the infected person touches other parts of the body, the disease can develop again.
The molluscum contagiosum disappears after a period of 12 to 18 months and, although it does not leave large scars, it can happen that some parts of the skin become lighter or with a small pitted mark.
The doctors who can diagnose the disease are general practitioners, dermatologists and infectologists.
Usually, the diagnosis is made quickly and the doctor can know what it is just to look at the small bubbles in the body, because they are easy to recognize. However, if there is still any doubt, he can curett the skin in the infected area and take it for biopsy, which will confirm the result.
Most cases of molluscum contagiosum do not need to be referred to a specialist, but if you meet any of these requirements, the doctor can refer you to a specialist.
- If you are HIV positive and your symptoms are severe;
- If you have a weakened immune system due to chemotherapy;
- If you have painful blisters on your eyelids or near your eyes.
There are some treatments available for the infection to heal more quickly, however, many doctors do not recommend them, especially in children, because:
- The infection disappears in about 6 to 12 months on its own, without leaving scars;
- The infection does not usually cause any symptoms other than small blisters, so it does not affect daily activities;
- Treatment can be painful and can leave scars.
Treatment is only recommended for adults and older children where the disease is affecting the patient’s quality of life.
There are several topical treatments (creams, lotions and ointments) that can be used to treat molluscum contagiosum. These treatments are usually accompanied by a dermatologist.
This type of treatment works by breaking the skin cells around the virus, allowing the immune system to respond to the treatment. The liquid is applied twice a day to each lesion, for about 4 to 6 days and, before they disappear, the lesions will look inflamed.
Healing takes about 1 to 5 weeks.
The adverse effects of this treatment can be:
- Hardening and peeling of the skin;
- Swelling in the skin;
- Itching or burning sensation after applying the cream.
These side effects are usually quick and a large part is related to the inflammation process needed to start the healing process. However, it is necessary to consult a doctor if the effects become too uncomfortable.
Podophyllotoxin comes in liquid form and poisons the bubble cells caused by the contagious mollusk. A syringe is used to obtain the correct dosage of the medication, which is then dripped onto each blister.
The treatment is carried out through cycles, the first of which involves the application of the medication twice a day, for three days, followed by a four-day break.
Most people need four to five cycles to get better.
This cream can be used to treat a large set of blisters that are very close to each other. It works by stimulating the immune system to attack the disease virus.
The application should be done 6 to 10 hours before washing the area and carried out at least three times a week. It may take several weeks before you notice an improvement in your symptoms.
Adverse effects of this medicine may include:
- Hardening and peeling of the skin;
- Swelling of the skin;
- Burning or itching sensation after applying the cream;
This medicine can be available in two presentations, gel and cream, and should be used in all areas of the body that are affected by the virus, twice a day.
Benzoyl peroxide should be used with care, as if used excessively, it can cause damage to your skin. This asset makes the skin more sensitive to sunlight, so it is necessary that you avoid exposure while using the medication or use sunscreen.
The medicine can cause stains, so avoid touching objects while using it, in addition to washing your hands well after applying it.
Side effects of the cream can include:
- Dry skin;
- Burning, itching;
- Redness and peeling of the skin.
These treatments can be painful and are often not suitable for children. They should be performed by a specialized dermatologist or general practitioner and should never be performed at home.
This type of treatment involves freezing the blister with liquid nitrogen so that it can be removed.
You may need several sessions before each virus bubble clears completely and you need to take a two to three week break between sessions.
After using a local anesthetic to cushion the area to be treated, this treatment uses heat to remove the blisters caused by the disease. The doctor or nurse will use a heated electrical device to burn them.
This treatment removes the spots through a scraping on the skin, carried out by a thin metal instrument. Your doctor may use local anesthetics to decrease the pain of curettage.
There are also some home treatments for curing molluscum contagiosum, they are:
Due to the presence of allicin, garlic is a food that has antiviral and antifungal properties. For this reason, it can be favorable in the fight against the contagious molluscum virus.
In the morning, mash the garlic until it takes on a paste consistency, then apply it over the infected area and apply the dressing. During the bath remove and wash well. Repeat this process for a few days and you will experience an improvement in symptoms.
It is important to note that the excessive time of garlic on the skin can cause redness, burning, irritation or burns. For this reason, before adopting this and any other homemade measure, consult your dermatologist.
Australian lemon myrtle oil
Make a mixture of lemon oil and olive oil and stir until a uniform substance. Apply to the skin, once a day, with the help of cotton.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has antibacterial and antiseptic properties that are able to fight the disease virus. It can be applied directly to the bubbles, which will decrease the size of the secretion, or used at bath time.
Apple cider vinegar
It is known to fight bacteria and end mollusks naturally. It should be applied before sleeping on the entire affected area with a cotton swab and then a bandage should be applied to each blister.
Treatment for immunocompromised people
Most treatments are also effective for patients with weakened immune systems, but patients who are HIV-positive may not respond to traditional treatments. In addition, these treatments are ineffective in long-term control in patients with HIV . So far, therapies that stimulate the immune system have proven to be more effective in treating molluscum contagiosum in these patients.
There is also a protein called Interferon, which is produced by leukocytes and fibroblasts, and is used to interfere with the replication of fungi, viruses, bacteria and tumor cells. It also helps in stimulating the body’s defense cells, but the adverse reactions of this type of treatment can be unpleasant, as the patient may develop symptoms similar to flu , depression and lethargy.
NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.
Care after treatment
After treatment, the patient must return to the doctor in a period of 15 days to 2 months, to be assured that the treatment was effective and the lesions were properly eliminated.
Is it possible for the disease to appear after treatment?
Yes, it is possible that there will be a new outbreak of the disease, even if you have already been treated. However, if the lesions are quickly diagnosed in the next event, the ease of control is greater.
The disease virus usually disappears on its own, without the need for treatment, and rarely causes other problems. However, occasionally, complications can occur if you have a weakened immune system.
The three most common complications that can occur are:
- Bubbles larger than normal larger than 5mm in diameter;
- Have more bubbles than normal, in some cases more than 100;
- Having more parts of the body affected by the virus, such as chest, arms and face.
In some cases, small warts caused by the disease can become infected with bacteria, although this is more likely to happen to people who have atopic eczema or a weakened immune system.
In that case, it will be necessary to use antibiotics to treat the infection, such as: Erythromycin , Clarithromycin , Azithromycin .
It is possible for small spots to remain on your skin after the contagious mollusc is cured. This is more likely to happen in regions of the body where there is more adipose tissue, such as, for example, the thighs.
Although the contagious molluscum virus is highly transmissible, most people are resistant to it and are not susceptible to developing it. However, to help prevent the spread of the disease, you can take some precautions, such as:
- Do not share personal items: This includes clothes, towels, hairbrushes and other items.
- Wash your hands: Keep your hands clean, this can help prevent the virus.
- Avoid touching the infected parts: By touching the infected parts and, soon after, touching other parts of the body that are clean, it may be that the virus spreads further.
- Avoid having sex: If you have the disease near your intimate areas, try to abstain from sex for a period of time until the disease is gone. If you decide to do it, it is important to remember that the condom may not cover the entire area affected by the virus.
- Cover the places where the molluscs exist: Use bandages or other dressings to cover the areas affected by the virus, in case another person will come in contact with your skin. However, leave the area uncovered when you are no longer exposed to contact.
- Prevention in swimming pools: avoid sharing personal objects, such as towels, toys or other equipment used for swimming. If you go to any pool and are already infected with the virus, cover all lesions with bandages.
- Prevention in sport: if you are infected, do not participate in sports that require contact, such as basketball and football. Also avoid sharing your equipment, such as helmets, gloves and balls.
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin disease caused by a virus and is usually painless and easily confused with other diseases. So, share this article with your friends so they know how to correctly identify the disease!