Can You Get Rid of Molluscum Contagiosum?

Updated March 21, 2017

Molluscum contagiosum is a relatively harmless condition that affects the skin and mucous membranes. However, when mollusca growths take over, there are a number of treatment options available. You can get rid of molluscum contagiosum, but it might take patience and diligence in addition to your chosen method of treatment.

About Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a genus of the Molluscipox virus called the poxvirus. Anyone can get molluscum contagiosum, but it's more commonly seen in children and adolescents, sexually-active adults and in people with depressed immune systems. The poxvirus is spread either through direct skin-to-skin contact or by handling a contaminated object. Children tend to get molluscum contagiosum by touching toys, doorknobs and other infected surfaces. In children, symptoms usually present in the neck, face, arms and hands, but adults usually acquire the poxvirus through sexual contact and exhibit growths on the genitals and groin.

Waiting It Out

The growths caused by the poxvirus--small, waxy dome-shaped papules with a tiny indention in the core--can be few or many, depending on the degree to which the virus has spread. Molluscum contagiosum generally resolves without the medical treatment in six to 12 months in healthy adults, but it takes longer to go away in children.

While a few growths may not require medical attention--especially in children--when the number of growths spread to the point where they create a cosmetic nuisance, seek a consultation with a dermatologist. The Mayo Clinic advises all adults with molluscum contagiosum to receive treatment.

In-Office Medical Procedures

Numerous in-office procedures can address each growth individually. Some of these may include cryotherapy (freezing the growths with liquid nitrogen), excision, cauterisation and laser surgery. A doctor also may apply a topical acid or blistering solution to each growth in order to dissolve it.

Prescription Topical Treatments

Some prescription topical medications that can get rid of molluscum contagiosum include retinoids, immune modifiers or antiviral medications. Some people may get dermatitis or eczema around the growths that causes itching and discomfort. An over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or prescription topical steroid can be applied to the area around the papule, but not the growth itself.

Preventive Measures

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, even when mollusca growths are treated, others often tend to erupt. To prevent spread of molluscum contagiosum, avoiding touching, rubbing or scratching the growths to avoid spreading to other areas of your skin. Don't shave over the growths, as this too will transfer the virus to other parts of the body. While you're being treated for molluscum contagiosum, do not share towels, clothing, hairbrushes and other personal items. If you acquired molluscum contagiosum from a sexual partner, avoid intimate contact with others until the condition is resolved.

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About the Author

Lisa Sefcik has been writing professionally since 1987. Her subject matter includes pet care, travel, consumer reviews, classical music and entertainment. She's worked as a policy analyst, news reporter and freelance writer/columnist for Cox Publications and numerous national print publications. Sefcik holds a paralegal certification as well as degrees in journalism and piano performance from the University of Texas at Austin.