Trying to get -- or make -- molluscum contagiosum treatments in Europe
July 12, 2021 9:55 AM   Subscribe

for my 6 year old. There seem to be a lot more treatments available in the US. Would like advice on getting stuff shipped, avoiding it getting caught up in customs and on perhaps finding some ingredients to prepare a treatment myself.

He has a fairly mild case but it is starting to spread to other parts of the body. The standard treatment here is freezing or cutting them off or using a solution that irritates them and is supposed to stimulate an immune reaction (Potassium hydroxide 5 or 10 %).

I have found on various forums and generally online some treatments that I would not mind trying, because they seem to be less invasive, with less scarring, etc. but I am having a hard time finding these things in Europe. I could ask someone to ship them from the US but here things inevitably get caught up in customs. Or is there a way to have the customs dealt with beforehand?

I would also be interested in opinions on the following and whether these are safe things to just try on a kid, and also whether / how I might make something myself, e.g. by mixing some of the ingredients I find here separately. I like them because they seem to be, well, less bloody than other treatments.

1) These patches seem really interesting (the ingredients are: Hyaluronic acid, Sophora angustifolia Root extract, Asiaticoside, Paris Polyphylla, Thuja occidentalis, Yunnanensis, Camellia Sinensis, Focus Vesiculosus. Does this seem legit? Reviews seem to be good. But they don't seem to ship to EU. I wonder which of the ingredients are most important, perhaps I could find them in a health food store here?

2) Some have recommended a castor oil and zinc cream, but I can't find that here. Could I just mix some castor oil with a standard zinc diaper area cream?

3) Another recommendation I have seen is something called DMSO, but I am really unsure about that.

FWIW, the doctor recommended the Potassium hydroxide drops (first batch didn't work, I think it was defective, second is at least irritating them) and a body cream containing silver, to sort of keep all the skin clean. I am getting the cream today.

My understanding (please correct) is that just treating the spots is not enough, new ones can come from inside, so to speak, but since it is not spreading very fast, I would be happy with a more cosmetic solution to get him through the summer without feeling uncomfortable (beach holidays in late August / early September, pandemic permitting).

posted by melamakarona to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
If you're looking for a natural, less invasive option, what about waiting it out? The Mayo Clinic says it usually clears up on its own in 6-12 months.
posted by aniola at 10:21 AM on July 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

1. Probably the HA and Asiaticoside are the 'active' ingredients in the patches; both are skin soothing and anti-inflammatory, but they wouldn't do anything to limit spread/hasten healing. They're common ingredients in cosmetics and both La Roche Posay and Bioderma have popular Cicaplast/Cicabio product lines with Asiaticoside.

2. Zinc cream would work just fine on its own as a skin soother/anti-itch.

3. Completely unfamiliar with this.

NAD, but freezing lesions usually has the best outcome cosmetically. Otherwise, it's just a matter of waiting and controlling spread. Avoid baths, use a fresh towel after each wash and make sure towels are sterilized between uses (either with a high temp wash cycle and/or bleach). Wash the kiddo with an iodine or hydrogen peroxide product in and around effected areas. It's also recommended to cover all visible lesions to limit spread; waterproof film bandages like Tegaderm work best and can be left on for a week at a time with no ill effects.
posted by givennamesurname at 10:38 AM on July 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm averse to waiting it out for a few reasons. First, it is getting a bit unsightly and might cause problems with our vacation plans (small hotel with a kids program). Second, there is some spreading to belly and legs -- right now just one in each place, but that could change. Third, my son tends to have skin problems -- I suspect he has a mild eczema -- so I worry a bit about it suddenly speeding up. But thanks very much for your answer. I mean, if I could help manage the spots as they come, having a few active ones at a time is ok.
posted by melamakarona at 10:42 AM on July 12, 2021

I would not use DMSO. It is an excellent solvent and can make anything it's mixed with absorb readily through the skin.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:25 AM on July 12, 2021

Both of my sons had this along with severe eczema. Waiting it out was the most successful treatment, but I did occasionally use a zinc-heavy diaper cream on it. I'm in the US.
posted by annathea at 11:37 AM on July 12, 2021

So my information is about ten years out of date, but I was heavily in the dealing-with-molloscum-in-a-kid-world also while living out of the US. We had my mom send some tea tree oil and we applied that, but I can't say that it's an evidence-based solution; I just don't know.

The other thing we did that you can definitely do in the meantime: we covered up the spots with bandaids, including after they broke. My recollection (albeit hazy) is that they spread (or maybe spread more easily) when they break. Covering them up kept them from being bumped accidentally and meant that mindless scratching was less likely to damage the skin. I would go all in on bandaids with favorite characters or in favorite colors or whatever works for your kiddo.

Honestly, I don't know that there are actually treatments that really work. I think it's a virus that you end up waiting it out. Physical removal helps, I'm guessing, because it makes less likely that they'll spread. I do think the actual bump itself, and the stuff inside, is what's contagious.

For what it's worth: no one else in the house -- a younger sibling and two parents - got molloscum from my kid who did have it.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:58 PM on July 12, 2021

1 is unlikely to be legit, beyond being a bandage. I would assume those are harder to find in the EU because of stricter regulations of scams. The US CDC has a number of topical therapies and none of those ingredients are present, and they indeed warn: Be aware that some treatments available through the internet may not be effective and may even be harmful.

CDC is very reliable so I would follow all their advice.
posted by flimflam at 3:34 PM on July 12, 2021

My 5 year old has had these for almost 18 months now. They have almost cleared now - she still has a couple remaining on the top of her legs. I didn't like the look of them either, but the advice we got from GPs in Australia is there's nothing you can do about it without leaving scars (and no reason other than cosmetic to do so). She had one cluster on her arm, which spread to her torso and some down her legs. It never spread crazily, and when it was necessary we kept them covered up with bandaids. I found they really irritated her existing mild eczema, so we mostly focussed on treating that.
posted by fever-trees at 5:15 PM on July 12, 2021

My oldest kid had that and the dermatologist got rid of them with cantharidin . It was magic. (This was after months of expensive creams from the pediatrician that didn’t work at all. I think one of them was Imiquimod cream. Did nothing. I did get some strange looks from the pharmacist buying genital wart cream for a six year old..) He put a tiny dot of cantharidin on each one and said okay, go straight home and take a bath and wash it all off in 30 minutes. It made big non-painful blisters that looked gross but popped and then healed and the molluscum were gone. It took maybe two treatments and didn’t scar or anything. (Maybe there were tiny little dots left behind but barely noticable. I don’t remember. It was probably 16 or so years ago.) She has very sensitive skin and it was fine. The blisters look terrible for a while but didn’t bother her and it worked like MAGIC.
posted by artychoke at 7:32 AM on July 13, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for these answers.

Perhaps those patches are nothing more than some calming and antiseptic ingredients in a protective package. And that's something that I can do here.

One question I had is whether bandages, duct tape, etc., have any value beyond just keeping the kid from infecting other parts of the body or other kids, i.e., is it supposed to help them heal if they are covered up?

Thanks again.
posted by melamakarona at 8:44 AM on July 13, 2021

One question I had is whether bandages, duct tape, etc., have any value beyond just keeping the kid from infecting other parts of the body or other kids, i.e., is it supposed to help them heal if they are covered up?

I see your question, and I just don't know. I thought they were generally about protecting the bumps (as we called them) and making it less likely that the kid would scratch them. In general, skin that is moisturized will heal faster, so I suppose wearing a bandage, especially if you apply some sort of cream first, might help them not scar.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:12 PM on July 13, 2021

Oh! Just noticed the part about duct tape! Please don't use duct tape on your child! I used to use it cover up blisters and such on myself, and there's all sorts of nasty things in duct tape you really don't want getting in kiddo's system. Use a bandaid or something else made for skin.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:59 AM on July 14, 2021

Response by poster: Please don't use duct tape on your child!
haha, not planning to. I could have sworn someone mentioned duct tape in this thread. I guess it was some other one.
posted by melamakarona at 1:11 PM on July 14, 2021

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