Medical Q&As

Molluscum contagiosum - treatment?

My 5yr old daughter has what looks like warts on her arms. My GP told me a name for them and said they would go but they seem to be getting bigger with yellow inside them. She has them over a year now. Can you tell what exactly they are and are there any ways to get rid of them?

This sounds like a case of molluscum contagiosum, which is a superficial viral infection of the skin. The virus invades the skin and produces these firm bumps that contain a cheese-like material. The lesions can be flesh coloured, white or translucent and can occur anywhere on the body. They can persist for many months but they eventually disappear. The causative virus is a member of the poxvirus family and is usually spread by direct physical contact. It may also be spread by scratching or shaving the infected area thereby spreading the virus onto previously uninfected areas of skin. Scratching may also result in secondary bacterial infection of the skin, which may result in minimal scarring of the skin. The condition may be treated with cryotherapy or alternatively by curetting. The former involves the application of extreme cold such as with liquid nitrogen, which kills the virus and eliminates the lesion through cold injury. In other words the wart is literally frozen off. Curetting involves scooping out the cheese-like material from the lesion with an instrument called a curette. The lesion usually disappears soon after this procedure. Both of these treatments can be a little sore especially in the case of a 5-year-old child so it is perfectly reasonable to leave them alone since they do eventually disappear.