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Molluscum contagiosum

This article provides an overview of molluscum contagiosum, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options

Molluscum contagiosum is a contagious infection characterised by the development of small skin bumps. It can be transmitted through direct contact with the virus. While the condition typically resolves without intervention, various treatment methods can be tried out.

What is molluscum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection that results in raised, painless bumps on the skin's surface[i]. These lesions typically resolve on their own without treatment and rarely leave scars. The duration of the infection varies, ranging from 2 months to 4 years. The virus spreads through direct skin contact or contact with contaminated objects. While medication and surgical options exist, treatment is often unnecessary. However, those with weakened immune systems may require more intensive treatment [ii].

What are the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum?

You may observe the emergence of painless lesions, either as a single bump or in a cluster of up to 20 bumps. These bumps typically exhibit the following characteristics:

They are very small, shiny, and smooth in appearance.

They can be flesh-coloured, white, or pink.

They have a firm, dome-shaped structure with a central dent or dimple.

They contain a core of waxy material.

They range in size from 2 to 5 millimetres in diameter, similar to the head of a pin or the eraser on a pencil top.

They can be found anywhere on the body except for the palms of the hands or soles of the feet. In children, they often appear on the face, abdomen, torso, arms, and legs, while in adults, they tend to occur on the inner thigh, genitals, and abdomen.

Who is at risk for molluscum

If you or your child comes into contact with the M. contagiosum virus, it may take up to 6 months for symptoms of infection to appear. Typically, these symptoms manifest within 2 to 7 weeks after acquiring the molluscum contagiosum virus. People with weakened immune systems or conditions affecting the skin such as eczema or dermatitis may be most at risk.

Other risk factors include: people who live in tropical climate, people living with long-term health issues that affect the immune system like HIV, people who participate in contact sports in which skin-to-skin contact is common, like wrestling or football[iii].

What causes molluscum?

Molluscum contagiosum occurs when you acquire the M. contagiosum virus, a type of poxvirus[iv].

This virus can transmit between people while lesions are visible. It’s also possible to transmit the virus from one area of skin on your own body to another part.

What can be done about molluscum?

Most people with a healthy immune system won’t need to seek treatment for molluscum contagiosum. These bumps usually fade away without medical intervention[v].

How long does molluscum last?

Molluscum contagiosum typically resolves without treatment in individuals with a healthy immune system. This gradual healing process usually takes 6 to 12 months and doesn't result in scarring[vi].

However, for some, it may take several months to a few years for the bumps to completely disappear. People with compromised immune systems may experience a more persistent infection that lasts even longer.

Once the lesions fade and the M. contagiosum virus is eradicated from the body, it can no longer be transmitted to others or other body parts. The appearance of new bumps would only occur if a new infection occurs.

It's worth noting that previous infection with molluscum contagiosum doesn't provide immunity, and people can still contract the virus again.

Natural remedies for molluscum?

Tea Tree Oil: Some advocate occasionally using diluted tea tree oil, which is known for its antimicrobial properties, topically to address molluscum contagiosum. It is recommended to mix tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, before applying it to the affected areas[vii]. Try Aqua Oleum Tea Tree - Organic

Apple Cider Vinegar: Diluted apple cider vinegar is believed by some people to aid in drying out molluscum lesions and promoting healing. It is important to dilute the vinegar before use and avoid applying it to broken or irritated skin.

Vitamin A: Topical application or oral supplementation with vitamin A has been suggested as a potential treatment for molluscum contagiosum. However, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional before using this approach, as high doses of vitamin A can be toxic. Try: Terranova Advanced Synergy Multivitamin

Echinacea: Echinacea, a herbal remedy thought to support the immune system, is sometimes used by individuals in the form of supplements or topical creams to potentially assist in molluscum contagiosum treatment by boosting immune function. Try: Viridian Echinacea Complex (60 caps)

Homeopathy: Certain homeopathic remedies are claimed to have benefits for molluscum contagiosum. However, the evidence supporting their effectiveness is limited, and in homeopathy, treatment is typically tailored to individual symptoms and circumstances.

Our other favourites for skin viral conditions include:

Allicin Alliderm Gel and Z Gel - All Purpose Healing Gel: These products include skin-supporting, skin healing-supporting and antiviral herbs such as allicin. Z-Gel all purpose soothing gel is an all-purpose soothing topical gel made from a synergistic blend of organic plant extracts, energised colloidal silica and organic flower essences[viii].

A Diet to support immunity may help molluscum:

A balanced and nutritious diet plays a crucial role in supporting a strong immune system. While no specific food or diet can guarantee immunity against all illnesses, incorporating certain foods can help optimise immune function. Here are some dietary recommendations to support immunity:

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables: These are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support immune health. Include a colourful variety of fruits and vegetables, such as berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, bell peppers, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.

Get adequate protein: Protein is essential for immune system function. Include lean sources of protein in your diet, such as poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, and tofu.

Include healthy fats: Incorporate sources of healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. These fats contain antioxidants and help reduce inflammation in the body.

Probiotics and fermented foods: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support gut health and immune function. Include probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi in your diet.

Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to maintain optimal hydration, as it supports immune function and overall health.

Limit processed foods and added sugars: Processed foods often lack essential nutrients and may contribute to inflammation. Excess sugar consumption can impair immune function. Opt for whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.

Lifestyle suggestions to support immunity

Moderate alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol intake can weaken the immune system. If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation.

Get adequate sleep: While not directly related to diet, quality sleep is vital for a robust immune system. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.

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Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.