benign neglect and mollusucm contagiosum
July 20, 2010 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Please share your experiences dealing with Molluscum in small children.

You are not our child's doctor. Her primary care doctor believes that our 2-year old is experiencing molluscum contagiosum outbreak. His recommendation for treatment is "benign neglect" in so far as she has only a few bumps and the possible medical solutions (freezing, scraping, topical treatments) are said to be either mostly ineffective and/or painful for the child. Of course, I've been doing online "research" and find a huge range of treatments and a wide array of responses from Oh My God, your child is a contagious leper requiring seclusion and shunning to Attack the Virus on All Fronts to Whatever, it'll go away eventually, maybe in a year or two.

She has about 4 bumps on her neck that are exposed when she's wearing a shirt, and a couple on her back, and then 1-2 on a leg and and arm. It looks like she also has one on her face and that's the one that concerns me the most.

I know parents that have gone to pediatric dermatologists and sought all kinds of treatments and of course, I'll do that if it seems warranted but I guess I'm leaning toward a the initial recommendation to just wait it out. But then I second guess this approach and think that maybe the doctor is just brushing us off and that I should be a stronger advocate for my child. For now we're just monitoring the spread of the virus and hoping it doesn't get worse. Should we be doing more? Are there at-home treatments that others have found to be effective?

She is in daycare, part-time and does go swimming with us. Neither of those activities needs to be restricted, according to most everything I read. There are other threads on molluscum here but they are focused on the experiences of adults.
posted by otherwordlyglow to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Both my kids had molluscum; they were adopted from overseas, and it's pretty common in kids living in care centers in their birth country. So not only do I have the experience of dealing with it in my kids, and my friend's kid, but also of talking to about 8 million other adoptive parents on message boards about molluscum.

Let me reassure you: in all the cases, I have never heard it taking longer than six months to fully run its course. Does that seem like forever? I mean six months from the first bump to the last remaining drying of the last bump. It took that long for one of my kids; it was faster in the other kid.

Here's what's key in the interim: try to help your daughter not pick at them, because that's what can spread them. If she's picking at them, put some bandaids over them (you might do this for appearance, anyway, or to keep the virus from spreading). Also, don't worry too much that you might catch this--our immune systems are usually healthy enough to fight it off (I don't know of any adults who caught it from their kids).

Two suggestions that may or may not work:
tea tree oil applied directly to the bumps
vinegar soaked into a small sterile cloth and then held on with a bandaid at night
hard core wart cream from the dermatologist (notably, this did *not* work for us)

Where's the bump on her face? Is it near her eye? That's really the only reason I would worry--if the bump was somehow interfering with her vision. And then having the derm scrape it off might be the best thing.

But I totally agree with your inclination to wait it out. I'm not sure any of the remedies did anything for my kids. Time worked best. Good luck. Feel free to MeMail me if you want more information.

PS You are not a bad parent for waiting this out.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:55 AM on July 20, 2010

My daughter had one little molluscum wart that I put off getting looked at - by the time her regular checkup came around, she'd gotten at least a hundred on her chin and neck. The pediatrician put her on several different creams with the only outcome being terrible looking sores on her neck. (They didn't hurt, but they looked like maybe I'd burned her with a curling iron.) Several months and several hundred dollars worth of visits and prescriptions later, we took her to a dermatologist who put medicine made from blister beetles in the warts. It was all cleared up in a couple of weeks with only a few treatments. My friend took her son for same treatment with the same happy results. The medicine gave her big blisters, but they went away quickly.

The same pediatrician told me that my son's warts would go away by themselves in about 18 months or so - we finally got the derm to take them off about 8 years later. (Those were regular warts and didn't spread much. He got rid of them with medicine - I can't remember which kind, though. )
posted by artychoke at 9:59 AM on July 20, 2010

The one on her face is right next to her nose - so not obscuring anything. It just looks like a pimple, really. I have an appointment with own dermatologist this week for unrelated stuff so maybe I'll see if she can give me some advice.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:09 AM on July 20, 2010

I had molluscum that lingered and showed no signs of improving under the "benign neglect" treatment option for about a year. I ended up doing the following: dab the sores with a little apple cider vinegar (this can sting a bit, so dilute it if it bothers your kid) and then cover with a bandaid. Repeat. They shriveled up and healed, no scarring, within about a month.
posted by telegraph at 10:30 AM on July 20, 2010

My five year old has had them for the past year and a half or so. After the wait and see thing didn't work, his pediatrician prescribed Retina-A, and told me to apply a small amount to each wart a couple of times a week. We didn't use it religiously, but a couple of them did clear up rather quickly.

He started swim team this summer, and at the beginning of June he had 3 spots that were very resistant to treatment (i.e. completely unchanged). Within 2-3 weeks all three disappeared, presumably from the chlorinated pool water.
posted by jenny76 at 11:00 AM on July 20, 2010

I had this between about ages 6 and 10. Individual bumps were eventually frozen off by the use of liquid nitrogen as I got handed up the doctor chain (eventually I wound up at a teaching hospital having my crotch looked at by a horde of acolytes from the local medical school, which was GRRRR-EAT!), but I remember having some lingering rash for months and months afterward until it abruptly ended when I caught strep throat and was prescribed strong antibiotics. This led me to believe-- and yes, at the time, I was that kind of kid-- that I had an opportunistic secondary infection that prolonged the misery. So consider that if this doesn't promptly go away.
posted by norm at 1:23 PM on July 20, 2010

Two other thoughts-- one, I remember the liquid nitrogen treatments vividly, and I assure you they did not hurt. Even the ones that were remarkably close to very sensitive areas. Two, after looking at the pictures and reading the article you linked it is reasonably certain to me that I did **not** in fact have molluscum. This doesn't surprise me too much, in that during that whole 4 year period I was diagnosed with several things, but it does suggest to me that your attitude of questioning and advocacy for not just waiting for other things to happen is a good one. Skin conditions are weird, especially in kids, and there's no harm at all in requesting a second opinion.
posted by norm at 1:26 PM on July 20, 2010

The FAQ page of your CDC link shoots down my idea that because the molluscum and smallpox viruses are in the same family, smallpox vaccine might help in the treatment of molluscum:

Since molluscum contagiosum virus is a poxvirus, does the smallpox vaccination protect me from getting molluscum contagiosum?

No, the smallpox vaccination will not protect you from becoming infected with molluscum contagiosum virus. Although both molluscum contagiosum virus and smallpox (variola) virus are from the same group of viruses (poxviruses), they have significantly different genetic make-up and are easily distinguished by your immune system.

However, there is so much homology between molluscum and vaccinia virus (the virus that constitutes the smallpox vaccine), that I can't quite give up thinking that smallpox vaccination might shorten the course of molluscum for some people.
posted by jamjam at 4:11 PM on July 20, 2010

All good things to think about. Currently I'm supposing that we should be washing towels more frequently and not re-wearing pajamas to avoid re-infecting. Is that important?
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:55 PM on July 20, 2010

Hmmm, I don't think reinfection is an issue. Once your body learns to fight it off, it fights it off. I think. IANAD. IAJustAMom.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:22 AM on July 21, 2010

Follow-up in that I spoke with my dermatologist while my daughter was with me at my regular appointment. She pretty much echoed the primary care doc and said just to leave it alone and watch it for any signs of infection or extreme progress. I've been using apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil on the bumps not so much because I really believe it will help but so that I can feel like I'm doing *something* to respond.

As for the towels and reinfection thing, molluscum definitely can spread, according to everything I've read. Scratching the lesions can cause clusters to develop and since it's a often passed by casual contact, I guess I feel like a towel or bedding or pajamas could be a vector for further spreading the virus to other parts of her body.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:33 AM on July 22, 2010

Yes, molloscum can spread! You are right. When you said reinfection, I was thinking of getting it anew. But, yeah, the little bumps can definitely spread when they open. Certainly can't hurt to do some extra washing (well, it can hurt your time, but not your kid). Good luck. Thanks for the update.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:55 AM on July 22, 2010

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