Join the Dots
by Kirian Taylor
Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus that infects the skin, causing warts. Unable to kill the virus, the body walls it off in the tough skinned warts.
Molluscum is highly contagious but is basically a skin condition rather than something with deeper implications. It has no other side effects and can be eliminated by taking some steps relative to hygiene, and by using specific treatments.
Molluscum contagiosum is most common in children from 2 to 12 years old. It is contagious through direct contact, or by handling wet towels or other objects used by those already affected. Molluscum can live on a moist surface for up to 24 hours, which is why it is so effective at spreading itself around. It is generally seen on the face, neck, armpits, arms and hands. However, it may appear anywhere on the body apart from the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. Typically, Molluscum contagiosum begins as a small painless papule, which may rise up to form a flesh-coloured nodule, eventually creating clusters of wart-like spots. These can vary in size from a pinhead to ¼ inch (8mm) across and the average initial onset is at least five up to twenty bumps. Each wart has a little ‘pearl’ inside it, which contains the contagious virus. Children often spread the infection over themselves by scratching the warts (they can itch), releasing the ‘pearl’, and then touching other areas of their body.
Whilst this condition normally resolves itself without treatment, usually within 12 months, in some children it can spread rapidly. If repeatedly irritated it can become infected with bacteria, resulting in impetigo. This is an indication that the child’s immune system is weak and may need supporting.
Conventional treatments include freezing the warts, surgery (piercing and popping out the ‘pearl’) or burning with mild acid. However, these treatments are may leave scarring and do not improve the immune system, which can mean that the condition will reoccur.
Herbal treatments include Echinacea to help improve and strengthen the immune system. It is also possible to use creams containing Neem leaf extract. Improving the child’s diet will help, as this strengthens immune function. Exclude refined sugar, processed foods, crisps and fizzy drinks and increase the amount of fresh food and water being taken. It is recommended that treatment continues until the condition clears. This can often be achieved in six months or less.