II. Pathophysiology

  1. Not a wart virus (But often confused with these)
  2. Caused by DNA containing Poxvirus
    1. Poxviruses also include mpox and Smallpox
  3. Transmission
    1. Direct contact
    2. Fomites (e.g. shared towels)
    3. Autoinoculation (e.g. scratching)

III. Epidemiology

  1. Children
    1. Most commonly affects ages 2 to 11 years old
    2. More rapid spread associated with Atopic Dermatitis
  2. Adolescents and Adults
    1. Sexually Transmitted Infection
    2. Significant outbreaks associated with HIV

IV. Signs

  1. Characteristics
    1. Discrete single or clustered lesions (<30 in group)
    2. Raised firm Papules 3-5 mm diameter
    3. Skin Colored or pearly white
    4. Waxy-appearing
    5. Central punctate umbilication
  2. Distribution
    1. Face
    2. Trunk
    3. Lower Abdomen
    4. Pubis, inner thigh and genitalia (adults with STD)
    5. Mucosa may be involved
    6. Rarely affects palms and soles
    7. Extensive involvement in HIV

V. Labs: Microscopy of Incision and Drainage material

  1. Staining will show molluscum bodies
    1. Wright's Stain
    2. Giemsa Stain
    3. Gram Stain

VI. Management

  1. General
    1. Treatment is optional as these resolve on their own (over as long as 2-4 years)
      1. Avoid painful procedures for this benign, self-limited condition (especially in children)
      2. If treatment is desired, consider Aldara instead of Cryotherapy
      3. Treat those with Atopic Dermatitis or other underlying cause to prevent spread
    2. Red and inflamed lesions are in the process of resolution
      1. Do not treat these lesions with cyrotherapy or Topical Medications
      2. Expect spontaneous resolution soon after inflammation appears
  2. Cryotherapy
    1. Consider Topical Anesthetic pretreatment in children
      1. Apply under Occlusion 15 to 30 minutes before
      2. Products
        1. EMLA
        2. ELA-Max
  3. Electrodessication and Curettage (not recommended due to scarring risk)
    1. Consider following curettage with application of:
      1. Iodine
      2. Trichloroacetic Acid 30%
  4. Vesicant Application
    1. Keratolytic Agents
    2. Cantharidin
      1. YCanth
        1. Single use applicator of Cantharidin FDA approved for age >2 years (in 2023, approaches $700/applicator)
        2. Applied by medical provider every 3 weeks for 4 visits
        3. Clearance of molluscum in 3 months (NNT 3)
        4. (2023) Presc Lett 30(10): 58-9
    3. Imiquimod 5% cream (Aldara)
      1. Preferred option by many dermatologists, although evidence of significant efficacy is lacking
      2. Apply to skin lesion for 6-10 hours, then wash off
      3. Apply 3 times weekly for 4 to 16 weeks
      4. Do not use on mucous membranes
  5. HIV patients
    1. Cidofovir has been used in advanced molluscum

VII. Course

  1. Often spontaneously resolves without treatment (although may be present as long as 2-4 years)
  2. Molluscum is often severe in HIV Infection, other immunocompromising conditions and Atopic Dermatitis

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