Molluscum contagiosum is a skin condition that can occur in both children and adults. Aside from being a cosmetic concern, the virus is not considered a serious health problem. There are many traditional and homeopathic treatments for molluscum contagiosum, but unfortunately the only sure-fire cure is the passage of time. It can take anywhere from several weeks to several years for the virus to leave your body.
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Caused by a poxvirus skin rash discovered in the early 1800s, molluscum contagiosum is contracted through contact with an infected person or a contaminated surface. Transmission occurs when you experience skin-to-skin contact (either casual or sexual) with an infected individual. In addition, you can develop the virus by sharing clothes, towels or sheets with an infected individual.
Though it is less common, the molluscum virus can also be unknowingly spread at public places like public swimming pools and tattoo parlours. If you've developed molluscum contagiosum, it's also possible to spread it on your own body. This autoinoculation occurs when you touch another body part after scratching or picking at the lesions.
Sometimes confused with small, painless warts, molluscum contagiosum papules look like raised, flesh-coloured bumps with white, indented centres. The lesion's centre is a white, waxy core that is easily expelled when the papule is squeezed or scraped.
Ranging from 1/8 to 1/4 inch in size (about the size of a pencil eraser), molluscum papules often occur in clusters---or "families." The bumps are most often found on the body's trunk, face, arms and eyelids, but may occur anywhere, including the genitals when the virus is spread through sexual contact.
Many people choose to let the virus run its course. Since there is no definitive cure for the virus, this is the best treatment method. However, molluscum papules are unattractive, and many people wish to get rid of them for cosmetic reasons.
The three most common dermatologic treatment methods are curettage, cryotherapy and acid application. Your dermatologist may recommend one of these treatments if you have a severe molluscum case. Curettage is using a special scraping tool to expel the sore's curdlike centre. The centre of the molluscum warts is the most contagious, so by removing it, there is less chance for the infection to spread. During cryotherapy and acid application, the physician applies a small amount of liquid nitrogen or cantharidin ("beetle juice") acid. These solutions cause the papules to blister, dry up and heal, but it can be an uncomfortable process.
Some physicians have success prescribing imiquimod (Aldara) cream to infected individuals. Applied at home, this topical cream helps the immune system fight off the poxvirus. The drug has not been FDA-approved for molluscum, and it does not prove effective for every patient. In addition, the side effects of Aldara, such as skin inflammation and erosion, may outweigh its benefits.
In addition to standard medical options, some people report success with homeopathic treatments. As with more traditional approaches, these treatments come with varying degrees of success.
Some of the most common homeopathic treatments include the application of tea tree and thuja essential oils, couch grass cream, colloidal silver and organically bound iodine. While most of these options will not harm your skin, they may cause mild irritation or allergic reactions. Consult a homeopathic practitioner for dosing recommendations and side effect prevention if you decide to go this route.
While molluscum contagiosum is not generally considered dangerous, irritated lesions may become infected and require topical or oral antibiotics. Consult your physician if the lesions become especially red and warm, begin to ooze pus, or become hard and inflamed.
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