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Skin Care and Diseases

The spreading of mollescum

07/21/2006

Question:

My son has Mollescum. I was wondering how it is spread? Is it only spread through direct contact? Can the virus survive on a surface and then be transmitted? Can it be spread through water? I`m curious about my son spreading it to others and how diligent I should be about his contact with other children? Thank you.

Answer:

The process you are describing is very frequent in children and is caused by a virus called molluscum contagiosa.  It is a nuisance virus and has not been associated with any major medical problem.  It is easily spread from person to person by cells that are scrapped off, by clothing, and/or by direct contact.  Children frequently spread them, particularly on their face, after touching them on the skin surface of a friend and then rubbing their own skin.

In summary, these can be spread by direct contact, by clothing, contaminated toweling, etc. that is shared by several people.  I would urge you to see your board certified dermatologist or pediatrician.  The lesions can be removed very easily and/or can be treated with Imiquimod (Aldara).  While this drug was originally put on the market for warts, it is now used widely by the dermatologic community for extensive cases of mollusca contagiosa, as well as for some skin cancers. It usually is not recommended in children that are preschool age.  You may wish to discuss this with your pediatrician, as well as a dermatologist.

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati