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Your child's skin is soft and delicate. As kids grow they tend to be exposed to various environmental conditions having varied effects on their skin health. You need to be extra careful about taking good care of your child's skin as they are highly prone to catching quick infections, sometimes contagious ones too.
As kids have delicate skin, once some form of infection has happened, it might need a long course of treatment to be healed perfectly. One such skin disease common in children is molluscum contagiosum. It causes red bumps on the upper layers of the skin. This is a contagious form of skin disease and parents are requested to keep their little ones away from their friends/young family members so that the infection does not pass on to others.
What Is Molluscum Contagiosum?
This is a skin infection that is caused by a poxvirus, molluscum contagiosum. The infection appears in the form of lesions or raised bumps on the skin of your child. Most of the time small bumps disappear on their own and do not require any particular treatment. They are painless in nature. These bumps also do not leave behind any scar even when left untreated. The amount of time for which the virus exists in the body differs for each child. However, ideally, the bumps continue to be visible for a minimum of two months. In some rare cases, these bumps can last up to four years.
This skin infection can spread very fast. It spreads easily when your child comes in contact with someone who already has it. Also, it can spread by touching objects such as pillows, handkerchiefs, towels, etc., that have been contaminated by this virus. In most cases, your child won't need a treatment for this illness.
However, if your child has a weak immune system, then it could require quick medical attention as it might not heal on its own. This virus is known for attacking people with a weak immune system quicker when compared to those who have a strong immune system.
Causes Of Molluscum Contagiosum
When a person has this infection, he or she can easily spread it to others. So in case, your child touches the lesions present on the skin of an infected person, then there are chances that your child might also be attacked by this virus. Also, when your child plays with other children who might have this infection, then it can easily spread.
The virus also spreads when your child touches a surface that has been earlier touched by a person who carries the molluscum contagiosum virus. So touching things like clothes, towels, toys etc that have been earlier touched by an infected person are said to be easy ways of being contaminated by this virus. Sharing sports equipment (such as helmets, mats, gloves), if that has been touched by an infected person, can result in the transfer of this virus. Contact sports such as those of football or wrestling, which involve touching the bare skin, can also result in spreading of this virus.
When present in a person, the virus can spread from one part of the body to another. This usually happens when you touch or scratch the infected area and then immediately touch another uninfected part of the body.
Symptoms Of Molluscum Contagiosum
It is possible that your child, although contaminated with this virus, might not show any symptoms of this infection for as long as up to six months of time. The average incubation period is ideally considered to be somewhere between two to seven weeks.
Keep a watch on your child's skin. In case your child is infected by this virus; you are most likely to see groups of painless lesions. The bumps might appear in patches or alone. The bumps are
• small, smooth and shiny in appearance
• flesh-coloured or could also be either pink or white in colour
• shaped like a dome with a kind of dimple at the centre
• firm in nature
• filled with a waxy material at its centre
• usually in a size that varies between 2 to 5 millimetres in diameter
• usually not present on the palms of your child's hands, neither on the soles of the feet.
• specifically found to appear on the abdomen, face, arms, torso and the legs of your child.
In children with a weak immune system, the symptoms tend to be more significant. In such cases, the lesions might be as large as 15 millimetres in diameter. The bumps might appear in patches of 20 or more on the face. In such situations, these bumps appear to be resistant to any form of treatment.
Treatment Of Molluscum Contagiosum
If you have approached a doctor for treatment of your child's skin infection, then the doctor might perform a biopsy to confirm and reach a conclusive diagnosis. In the case of strong immune systems, any particular treatment is not essential. However, treatment becomes necessary in the following circumstances
• when lesions located on the face or neck are very large
• when the virus appears to spread rapidly
• when your child already has another existing skin disease.
The most effective treatments that the doctor can provide are
• cryotherapy - each bump is frozen using liquid nitrogen.
• curettage - the bump is pierced and the skin is scraped off.
• laser therapy - each bump is destroyed using a laser.
• topical therapy - creams containing chemicals or acids are applied on the bumps to induce it's peeling off.
If there are plenty of bumps, then multiple sessions might be required. A mild anaesthesia might be given to the child in case he feels pain during the treatment session.
The following medications are also prescribed.
• Topical podophyllotoxin in cream-based form
• Trichloroacetic acid
Home remedies to treat molluscum contagiosum
Home remedies for treating this skin infection are mainly to relieve the itching and the tingling sensation associated with this form of an ailment in children. However, it is always advisable to check with your childcare specialist before use of any kind of home remedy.
The following lists some of the common home remedies for treating this ailment.
• Tea tree oil:
This will be available at almost all drug stores. Combining tea tree oil along with iodine at least twice a day is believed to have shown a reduction in the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum. With its antiseptic features, tea tree oil works great for this ailment. However, it is advised to do a patch test as few children might be allergic to tea tree oil. However, ensure that your child does not eat the tea tree oil from what has been applied to the affected region.
• Oatmeal baths:
Colloidal oatmeal bath is said to soothe itchy and irritated skin. Colloidal oatmeal can be easily added to the lukewarm bathwater of the child. Presence of special triglycerides makes it a good anti-inflammatory agent. The fatty acids can gently coat the skin. However, the oatmeal bath should be limited to 15 minutes.
• Australian lemon myrtle:
Studies show that application of about ten per cent of Australian lemon myrtle at least once a day can reduce the symptoms of this ailment to a great extent. This can be found in almost all health and food stores. The ideal method is the regular application for a period of 21 days at a stretch.
• Coconut oil:
Presence of high content of fatty acids makes coconut oil highly effective in preventing the skin from drying out. This also has anti-inflammatory properties. Application of coconut oil makes the skin smooth and reduces itchiness.
• Apple cider vinegar:
Although its effectiveness is not confirmed, people believe that applying raw apple cider vinegar using a cotton swab on the affected sites can greatly reduce the itchiness and tingling sensation.
The following preventive steps can be taken.
• Encourage your children to wash their hands regularly, especially once they are back home after school or play.
• Ask your child not to scratch or rub the bumps on the skin.
• Ask your child not to share personal belongings such as towels, pillows, water toys, clothing, etc.
• Teach your child not to pick or scratch the bumps that might be present on another child's skin.
• If bumps have occurred, ask your child to wash them with water and soap often to keep the area clean.
• If your child is quite playful, it is suggested you use clothing on them that could cover the affected regions.
• If the bumps have been bandaged, then change the bandage often.
Although anyone can be affected by this ailment, it is common in the following groups of people.
• Children who are between the age group of 1 to 10 years.
• People who are constant participants in contact sports.
• People who already have atopic dermatitis (kind of eczema).
• People living in tropical climates.
•People with a weak immune system.