The Dreaded Molluscum

What is a molluscum? It sounds like some sort of sea creature. Those of you with small children have likely seen them crop up near the knees, belly or arms of little children, especially after a fun summer spent at the swimming pool or playing with friends. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read on. It is a common young childhood rash that appear as little, clear to skin-colored bumps that sort of look like pimples with a central tiny indentation. Often they don’t bother the kiddo and you may never know they have them unless you’re looking closely or see a lot of them crop up. But other times they become inflamed, surrounded by a rash, or look like a big zit. When they are looking like that, then everyone in the family knows because they’re sore! This is usually the time when parents panic and wonder what strange thing is happening with their child’s skin, and schedule with their local pediatrician or dermatology office.

This is the time when I instruct parents not to panic, and that Molluscum Contagiosum is a very common viral rash we regularly see in young kids. Being a virus, it is contagious and spreads around on the body and easily to other young kids (thus the contagiosum part of the word). And, as viruses go, our own body’s immune system will eventually find it and fight it. This virus comes from the Pox line of viruses, but it is not dangerous like Smallpox. As you will see in the picture, there are stages of healing and then it goes away, sometimes leaving a little pink, round, slightly indented scar. In those with darker pigmented skin, it can leave behind darker scars. They are dreaded because they can take up to 2 years to go away! They go away in one area and then pop up in another.  I know from personal experience, as my boy is going on 1.5 years with them. There are treatments to speed up the process, so if you’re worried and want them gone sooner than later, your local dermatology provider has a few options (and more options on the way). If you want to try an over-the-counter treatment first, you can find Zymaderm on Amazon. It is basically iodine, which causes an irritation to the spots. When the spots get irritated, the immune system will take notice quicker and will start fighting the virus.

How do you know the body has taken notice and is fighting it? It turns red around the bump, it gets a white head like a pimple, and can become painful to the touch. Don’t pop it! Just cover it with a bandaid and try to leave it alone. If it’s really bothersome, you can try hydrocortisone cream, or schedule with your dermatology provider.

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