Molluscum contagiosum in adults and children: symptoms, treatment and therapy

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral disease that can affect both adults and children. It is an "infection that affects the skin and, only occasionally, the mucous membranes, manifesting itself with the appearance of small lesions. The latter, completely benign, can occur in any part of the body, but are more frequent on the thighs, buttocks, lower abdomen, groin and genital area, while in children they are more likely on the face, legs, arms and torso.

Contagious molluscs do not affect internal organs and are therefore not dangerous. Their rather bizarre name derives from the Latin word "molluscus", that is "soft, soft, spongy". It is then defined as "contagious" because it is easily transmitted via skin contact.

This infection is quite common and intensifies especially with heat and high humidity, in short, in tropical climates, which facilitate contagion. According to statistics, molluscum contagiosum affects about 2.6 out of 100 individuals: in 80% of cases it is of children under the age of 15, with a maximum incidence between 1 and 4. Let's find out together everything there is to know: causes, symptoms, possibility of contagion, treatment and more suitable therapies.

Symptoms: lesions and itching all over the body, from the face to the genital area (pubis, glans, groin)

From the moment in which the molluscum contagiosum virus is contracted, no symptoms appear for a period that can vary from 2 to 7 weeks, called "incubation". The first lesions begin to appear only later: at the beginning they are small, soft and painless, in the shape of a small dome, with a central dimple. Over time they can enlarge and / or swell and redden. In these cases you have to be very careful. be careful not to remove them in a traumatic way or they could leave scars.

The size of these lesions, also called "papules", is about 2-6 millimeters. There may be only a couple of them or they can fill the entire body surface, even in the genital area. The only areas that are never affected are the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Contagious shellfish can cause itching as well as not.

In AIDS patients or those with immune system disorders, the lesions can lead to further complications or more serious skin rashes. An early diagnosis, in these cases, is essential.

See also

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Jellyfish stings: what to do? Therapy for children and adults

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Causes and contagion

The cause of the appearance of molluscum contagiosum is infection caused by a virus known by the acronym of MCV (molluscum contagiosum virus), belonging to the Poxviridae family.

Contagion can occur either by direct contact with the skin of those affected, or by sharing linen and sheets, or by using the same tubs or showers. Equally frequent, moreover, is the transmission by sexual way: in that case it will be the genital area to be affected.

One remains contagious until the molluscs disappear completely, but - unlike herpes zoster - the virus, once eradicated, does not remain dormant: if it reappears, it is a new infection. You must also be careful not to self-infect by touching the injury or if you use, for example, a razor to shave that ends up scraping the skin: it could spread the pathology to other areas of the body.

The subjects most at risk are first of all those who already suffer from diseases of the immune system, more exposed to the probability of becoming infected (according to statistics about 5-33% of AIDS patients are affected). patients using corticosteroids, those suffering from lymphoproliferative diseases, patients with atopic dermatitis.

Contagious shellfish in children

The molluscum contagiosum, as we have said, mainly affects children, among whom it spreads more quickly, especially if they frequent "promiscuous" environments such as the swimming pool.

In children, as in adults, mollusks do not cause pain, at most a little itch, and tend to pass on their own within a few months. Not being a malignant infection, children can safely continue to go to school. taking the necessary precautions.

Here are some tips to ensure the hygiene of your children:

Care and therapy: from specific cream to scraping

The molluscum contagiosum regresses spontaneously within a few months, but some form of treatment or therapy aimed at speeding up healing and preventing other parts of the body from being infected can still be recommended. Not for everyone, in fact, the times of disappearance are so rapid: in some cases it takes years!

The most common solution is a drug therapy which consists in the application of specific creams based on salicylic acid, potassium hydrochloride, retinoic acid or tretinonine (attention, however: these are drugs prohibited during pregnancy and breastfeeding, always ask your doctor about trust and avoid do-it-yourself in any case!) Treatments based on antivirals and immunosuppressants may also be recommended.

The most acute forms of contagious molluscs, on the other hand, can be resolved with treatments such as wound scraping, cryotherapy (which uses liquid nitrogen to burn papules), laser therapy, chemical bleaching. All these treatments could leave you alone. scars: if possible, it is always preferable to try a drug treatment first.

Prevention and natural remedies, from apple cider vinegar to homeopathy

Some tricks and good habits can help us prevent contagious shellfish and avoid infecting ourselves or other people. It is first of all good hygiene practices: always wash your hands, do not touch and scratch any type of injury (your own or others), always cover papules already present with clothes and plasters, do not share any towel or sponge if you are infected or sheet, avoid shaving right in the affected areas (yes, waxing the groin will have to wait!) and having sex until your doctor tells you.

There are also some natural remedies that can help you, possibly to be used together with drug treatment. You can try compresses based on essential oils, which would be able to reduce the size of the papules: try lemon oil and myrtle oil dissolved in olive oil, a real panacea! Tea tree oil and malaleuca oil are also recommended. Among the grandmother's remedies, on the other hand, there are garlic and apple vinegar, with their well-known antibacterial and disinfectant properties.

According to some, even homeopathy could come to our aid in the case of molluscum contagiosum: try homeopathic medicines based on white cedar or natrium muriaticum.

Nutrition does not seem to play any specific role in the onset of this disease or in its treatment. However, do not miss these foods in your diet that are particularly beneficial for the skin:

For more information about molluscum contagiosum, visit the Humanitas hospital website.

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