Health Matters: Ian Strachan looks at molluscum contagiosum and some treatments

Ian Strachan headshot
Pharmacist: Ian Strachan

Uppermill pharmacist IAN STRACHAN looks at molluscum contagiosum and some treatments.

Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a viral infection affecting the skin. It resembles small, firm raised spots which are not generally painful but can be itchy.

Spots can look rather unpleasant but are generally harmless and resolve in a few months without any specific treatment.

I would advice a referral to your doctor if you suspect yourself or child may have MC. The spots are easy to recognise so your doctor should be able to diagnose fairly swiftly.

The MC virus can be spread through:

  • Close direct contact – such as touching the skin of an infected person
  • Touching contaminated objects like towels, flannels, toys or clothes
  • Sexual contact – this includes intimate physical contact as well as sexual intercourse

It is not really known how long individuals are contagious for, but it is believed the period may last up until the last spot has completely healed.

MC can effect anyone but is most common in young children between one and five. It is also common in people with a weakened immune system, such as HIV, or people undergoing treatment with chemotherapy.

How is MC treated

In otherwise healthy individuals, spots usually clear within two months. However it is common for the condition to spread around the body so it can take up to 18 months or longer to resolve completely.

Routine treatment for children is generally not recommended. In older children or adults, if the spots are particularly unsightly, or people with a weakened immune system, then treatment may be considered.

This may involve liquids, gels or creams applied directly to the skin. Minor procedures such as freezing are also options.

Preventing MC

Although MC is infectious the chances of passing to others during normal activity is small. Therefore avoiding school or nursery or activities such as swimming is not necessary.

Measures to avoid spreading the virus should be adhered to and include:

  • Avoidance of squeezing or scratching the spots. In addition to minimising the spread of the infection, it will reduce bleeding, scarring or even pain.
  • Keep affected areas covered with clothing whenever possible. Waterproof bandages may be applied when swimming.
  • Avoid sharing towels, flannels, clothing, and baths
  • Use condoms to minimise the risk of passing on the virus during sexual contact

On that note I am signing off for a while from my column. I hope the series has been valuable and helped your understanding of the valuable role your pharmacist and their team play in your community. Bye for now.


One Reply to “Health Matters: Ian Strachan looks at molluscum contagiosum and some treatments”

  1. This is a good overview of molluscum which can have a real impact on a family. It often spreads to all members and can take many months to get rid of. Research undertaken by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore USA found that 50% of children have molluscum for at least one year.

    A separate study of molluscum contagiosum in children and infants by Cardiff University Wales found that:
    – the average length of molluscum infection is 13 months;
    – 30% of children suffer for 18 months;
    – 13% still have unresolved molluscum lesions at 24 months; and
    – molluscum infection is transmitted to other children in 41% of families.

    Several medical studies indicate that children prone to atopic dermatitis and eczema have more molluscum lesions that last longer. Other studies have shown an association between swimming, bath sharing and molluscum contagiosum. For some good information on molluscum see and also

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