Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Molluscum Contagiousum - Do you Know of It?

If you have school age children, especially those who take part in physical extra-curricular activities or children in day care settings, this is a "common" skin condition which is also a viral infection that my daughter mysteriously contracted that says it's common but contagious. Here's the facts (credit American Academy of Dermatology) then you can hear my story and why I want you to know...

What is  molluscum contagiosum?

This skin disease is most often seen in children. People who live in a tropical climate also are more likely to get molluscum. The virus thrives in a warm, humid place. Having atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema, also increases the risk of getting molluscum contagiosum.

What causes molluscum contagiosum?
A virus causes molluscum.

There are 2 ways to get this virus:
  1. Touch something infected with the virus. You can get molluscum by using an infected towel. You can get it from touching infected clothing or toys. Wrestlers and gymnasts get it from touching infected mats.
  2. Have direct skin-to-skin contact. Children often get molluscum because they have lots of direct skin-to-skin contact with others. People who participate in contact sports such as wrestling get molluscum from the direct skin-to-skin contact. Teens and adults often get the virus through sexual contact.

Molluscum Contagiosum Treatment

Dermatologists often recommend treatment for molluscum contagiosum. Treatment helps to prevent the virus from:
  • Spreading to other parts of your body.
  • Spreading to other people.
  • Growing out of control in people who have a weakened immune system.
  • Treatment, however, may not be best for a young child. Treatment can have unwanted side effects for a young child. And the bumps often go away without treatment.

Although the bumps often go away without treatment, most people should be treated. And people who have a weakened immune system should definitely get treatment. The bumps will not go away without treatment if a person has a weakened immune system.

There are many treatment options. The treatment your dermatologist prescribes will depend on your age, health, where the bumps appear on your body, and other considerations. 

Treatments that a dermatologist can perform in the office to treat molluscum contagiosum include:
  • Cryosurgery: The dermatologist freezes the bumps with liquid nitrogen.
  • Curettage: The dermatologist may use a small tool called a curette to scrape the bumps from the skin.
  • Laser surgery: A dermatologist uses a laser to target and destroy the bumps. This can be an effective treatment for people who have a weakened immune system.
  • Topical (applied to the skin) therapy: Your dermatologist can apply various acids and blistering solutions to destroy the bumps. These work by destroying the top layers of the skin. Tricholoracetic acid is often used to treat people who have a weak immune system and many bumps. 
    Our story starts back at the end of school year last year when we thought she had acne.  I know at the age of seven acne is not common but with the weather being warm and them being nestled on her neck where the sweat gathers, I treated it with an acne medicine that also had tea tree oil in it and they seemed to be going away.  I decided to get some good old Stridex pads like I used back in the day and they blew UP!  Which is when I took her to the dermatologist who told me it's this Molluscum Contagiousum which is common and that it could take up to a year to go away completely. (A year?!?) It was made out to be no big deal, had to run it's course, and her immune system had to be built up to fight it off.  Nobody else in the family has it including my son who will be 10 or my niece who is the same age as my daughter.  They all swam together over the summer and the girls change and exchange clothes eleventy billion times when they are together.

    A topical medication was prescribed obviously given her age I wasn't about to let them burn or cut them off. The cream burned her neck too badly to continue after a week - she had a large scab in place of one of the bumps that I'm surprised didn't leave a scar.  I decided to go back to the tea tree oil being all natural and it has been working.  She still has breakouts which was to be expected (a year, remember?) which brought her to the nurse's office yesterday and a frantic phone call to me about needing a doctor note so my child could come back to school and why wasn't it in her record?  To me, this is like putting on the record that she has herpes because she gets cold sores.  Who wants that advertised?  I was actually on the fence about it because as a parent, I would have liked to have known who it was that my daughter contracted this from.  Maybe if they had it on their record...

    Anyhow, I spent the rest of the afternoon on the phone between the school and the doctor's office which if you know about my phone skills or lack thereof...let's just say I was not a happy camper.  

    I gave the nurse the name to look up being that she's never heard of this "common" skin condition.  The elementary school nurse you would think should have a clue about this condition that's so common among children right?

    I left a message with the doctor's office who called back to say they want to see her again being that it's been a few months so I will be visiting both offices this morning to get things straightened out.

    Who knows, maybe the school nurse will be out of frantic mode or maybe the doctor will give us a different diagnosis altogether.

    Please tell me what you would do or would have done about this situation.  I know the doctor will be trying to talk me back into the prescription medication which I am against - this to me is a bigger issue than the school nurse needing a little education or acting like this would be a school epidemic.  

    So tell me, what would you do?


    Ali said...

    My daughter had this right before she turned 2. It's gross.We took her to the derm and they were blistered off with some kind of "beetle juice" really from a beetle. It worked and didn't burn or scar, but other breakouts would come back. I ended up buying an ointment I found online with colloidal silver. It seemed totally weird, but I was desperate. I really think it worked. The stuff I got was in a little blue pot the size of a Carmex container. My advice: do whatever you can do to get rid of it. I was embarrassed when people saw it. Since it is highly contagious I'd really want my own kids to be very careful around someone with it. They can't share towels, clothes, etc.

    CoffeeLovinMom said...

    She is very vigilant about swimming and sharing which is why she wanted to go to the nurse yesterday - they made it out to be a crisis which although contagious, it's not a major crisis gross as it is. I have been telling people on a need to know basis as it's not something we brag about.

    CoffeeLovinMom said...

    Also, could you send me a link for the ointment you used?

    Karen Toz said...

    My daughter has this also - she is 11. It started about 7 months ago & is limited to a small area on her thigh. The pediatrician also gave me a list of treatments, but didn't recommend them for kids (since the treatments can be painful) & said it will eventually go away on its own - although it could take up to a year (or longer). We opted not to burn them off. Instead, my daughter applies cortizone when needed for discomfort (which is almost never). She knows it's contagious & we're careful about that. No one can see it, so she doesn't have to worry about it looks like & she keeps it covered with pants/shorts that she doesn't share with anyone. We're just keeping on eye on them for now. I hope that nurse calms down a little... Good luck!

    CoffeeLovinMom said...

    Thanks for your comment Karen - I'm glad to know this..my daughter's are in a more exposed area and I think that is their concern but we are vigilant about her washing hands and sharing as well so now it's just a waiting game for it to be over..

    Danielle (or Dee) said...

    I think that's all it needs to be. A need to know basis. Even if it is in her record what are they going to do different? I am pretty sure nothing. If I were you I would stick to the natural that seems to be working. I have NEVER heard of this, maybe because it's so cold up here?

    CoffeeLovinMom said...

    I have a feeling not everyone feels that way. The doctor had to disclose that she doesn't recommend it but did state that the oil is helping so keep using it if it works.

    Sarcasm Goddess said...

    Yikes, that's a tough one. The school definitely needs to be educated about this. I can't believe it takes so long to go away. Your poor baby!

    Tough Cookie Mommy said...

    You have no idea how much this post hit home for me. My son contracted this virus about two years ago. He actually got bitten by a mosquito during the summertime and we thought that that is all it was at first. Then he started getting those bumps all over his forehead and I completely freaked out. When the pediatrician told us about this virus and how it could take a year to go away, I freaked out some more thinking about him having these horrible blemishes on his face. Our Ped actually had some experience with this because of her own children so she told us to apply antibiotic cream to the blemishes and keep them covered with bandaids so the medicine could penetrate the skin. It took a couple of weeks but eventually we treated all of the blemishes and they stopped coming back. I'm sorry you have to go through this and I hope it goes away soon.

    CoffeeLovinMom said...

    The nurse needs to be seriously updated in childhood diseases...I'm hoping since we are more than 6 months in that it's almost over - she was crying last night saying she didn't want to have it anymore. It hasn't really bothered her until recently

    CoffeeLovinMom said...

    That year (or more) thing freaks me out too - and just the grayness of the bumps coming and going. It's not black and white. I actually used baking soda on one last night which drew out the liquid and it looks much better. Did you use an over the counter cream or was it prescribed? Thanks Maria - I'm glad to know of other cases because we are being treated like lepers in this little town...

    MamaRiceCake said...

    It sounds like the nurse is making a mountain out of molehill to me. Not that you shouldn't be concerned since it's contagious but, you'd already taken her to the doctor and are treating it as directed. The fact that a school nurse has never heard of something doesn't mean a thing. OUR school nurse allowed kids with active MRSA come back to school while they had draining boils... UNCOVERED. I would say that THAT would be a bigger issue. If your daughter KNOWS what's going on, and you've already taken her to the doctor (who's undoubtedly done what's necessary re: the CDC reporting) then, this should be a NON-issue for the school nurse. I mean... come ON!

    Carri said...

    Poor thing. :( My stand is this: If you're aware of the problem and you're working with a doctor to resolve it, then the nurse needs to back off. The doctor isn't concerned with her going to school, right?

    Coffeelovinmom said...

    Thanks Sarah.. I was being made to feel like she was a leper or something..I get it because the spot in question doesn't look as nice as the pic above. There aren't many people who have heard of this around here - so weird

    CoffeeLovinMom said...

    The doctor had to write a bullshit note - that basically said she was cleared for school, but it said she was CURED, which isn't true but it passed. The doctor has not been concerned since the beginning which is why I didn't report it, being that it's a common childhood disease and all..
    I feel bad because she is at the point where it's starting to bother her that she has it - I'm sure that had nothing to do with the nurse or her teacher freaking out when she said it was contagious. She said the teacher's eyes got all big (and she showed me at the same time) Hopefully we are more than half through with it and it goes away soon.

    Cindy said...

    I feel your pain. My six year old daughter had ugly molluscum warts for 18 months all over her legs. My first doctor tried six different creams and treatments. None worked. One was painful. Then my new doctor at Mass General Hospital in Boston prescribed oral Cimetidine. Most people know it as the over the counter stomach acid medicine Tagamet. In 3 weeks the warts started scabbing over and dissappearing painlessly. In six weeks they ALL were gone. It was like a miracle and the end of a long niightmare. Cimetidine works by blocking histamines and boosting your own bodies immune response. My first doctor would not try it. She said it was not proven effective. Guess she was wrong!
    Happy in Boston

    Maria - Tough Cookie Mommy said...

    Hey, sorry for the late response, I just saw your question. We actually put Bacitracin on each bump and put a bandaid over each one to keep out the air. It seems that the antibiotic in Bacitracin killed whatever bacteria was in each bump. You can buy it over the counter in the pharmacy. Hope it works as well for you as it did for us.