The Pediatric Center: Molluscum in Children
At the Pediatric Center we want to keep parents informed about the health of their children. Molluscum contagiosum is a common infection in the skin of children. Read on for further information on the virus, its symptoms, when to call the doctor, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
What is Molluscum in Children?
A poxviruse is the source of molluscum in children. The poxviruse causes a relatively common skin infection in children, producing harmless, non-cancerous flesh colored growths in the skin’s top layers. Molluscum disease is spread through direct contact with the skin of an infected individual or through sharing towels with someone who has molluscum. Due to the contagious nature of the disease, outbreaks have occasionally been reported at childcare and daycare centers.
What are the Symptoms of Molluscum in Children?
Caregivers may notice a small number of, typically between 2 to 20, dome shaped raised bumps or nodules on the skin. These bumps are often described as having a wart like appearance. These bumps tend to be quite small, flesh colored or slightly pink. They will have a shiny appearance with an indentation or a dimple at the center of each bump.
Molluscum in children usually develops on the face, torso, and extremities, and can be found anywhere on the body except for the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Although the presence of these bumps may alarm parents, it is important to know that they are painless for the child. Another important note on the bumps caused by Molluscum is that they can last from several months to even a few years. This infection is most common in children between the ages of 1 and 12 years old.
Typically, Molluscum has an incubation period that varies between 2 to 7 weeks. Occasionally the incubation period may be much longer, even up to as long as 6 months.
When Should You Call Your Doctor?
The Pediatric Center wants parents to know that if they notice bumps on their child that fit this description it time to call your child’s pediatrician.
How Will Your Doctor Diagnose?
Your child’s doctor can usually make diagnosis of Molluscum with a visual examination of the rash. In the event that the diagnosis is uncertain, your child’s doctor can perform a skin biopsy or set up an appointment for your child to be seen by a dermatologist for a biopsy.
What is the Treatment for Molluscum in Children?
When it comes to treatment for Molluscum nodules, most cases resolve themselves without treatment. Meaning that if a child has a few scattered bumps they will go away on their own eventually without any treatment at all. Some parents and children may elect to have the bumps removed. The bumps can be removed through a scraping procedure with a sharp instrument called a curate, by using peeling agents or through freezing techniques such as liquid nitrogen. All of these methods are painful and should be carefully considered.
It is recommended that if the bumps are to be treated, the simplest treatment should be tried first. Simple treatments are meant to irritate the spots to encourage the body’s immune system to recognize the presence of the virus and attack the infected cells. Simple treatments can include:
- Tape stripping. Cover the spots with a watertight tape, leave the tape on for a couple days then pull it off, thus irritating the spots.
- ‘Irritating solutions’ can be applied to the bumps and must be carefully applied to avoid irritating the surrounding skin.
- An aluminium acetate solution can be applied in conjunction with tape stripping if the above methods do not work.
Talk to your child’s doctor before pursuing any at home remedies and about treatment options.
The more aggressive a treatment the more likely scarring will occur. In rare cases, after the bumps have been removed and the molluscum infection healed, scarring can still remain.
As previously mentioned, the molluscum contagiosum infection usually will go away on its own after a period of several months to a few years. Children with suppressed immune systems may have the infection for even longer or the infection may spread to other parts of the body.
What Can Parents Do at Home?
There are a number of things that parents can do from home to help prevent the spread of molluscum bumps to other parts of the child’s body. Things to do at home include:
- Have your child take a shower instead of a bath. The virus can live in the warm bath water and be carried to other parts of the body.
- Wash and dry bath toys after each use, even bath toys can spread the virus.
- Towel dry carefully. The virus can be spread by bath towels, so dry the bumps last and then wash the towel.
How can Molluscum in Children be Prevented?
The “keep your hands to yourself” policy for children is helpful in the prevention of many childhood diseases and the spread of common colds as well. Molluscum is spread through skin-to-skin contact with another child or adult with molluscum bumps. If your child has molluscum here are some important tips to prevent the spread of the virus to other children:
- Do not share bath with other children.
- Do not share towels, clothing or washcloths.
- Be sure that you wash your hands well after touching the molluscum bumps.
Although molluscum is contagious, your child can still go to school or daycare and play with other children. Molluscum bumps are typically covered by clothing, protecting the infected areas from contact with others.
The Pediatric Center is Here for You
If you have further questions or concerns about Molluscum in children or if you believe that your child may have Mollumscum, don’t hesitate to give us a call at The Pediatric Center. We can help you decide when it is time to come in and have your child looked at by their doctor. Remember, although the bumps of molluscum may look uncomfortable, they are painless for you child.
Featured image credit: By Evanherk from nl, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=214029