Treatment Review #15; December 1994
Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a common and difficult skin
condition for people with HIV infection. It shows up as tiny
bumps, often on the face. The bumps are known as lesions. The
lesions usually occur as flesh-colored, pearly, raised but
firm, non-tender nodules. Infection with the virus that
causes MC is common in children. Lesions can appear on the
face, arms, legs, and the skin between the genitals and anus.
Some researchers think that 90% of adults have been infected
with MC without the appearance of lesions.
Different treatments are available, although they are not
always successful in getting rid of the molluscum, which can
come back even when it's treated. Sometimes it goes away by
itself, but not often. Some doctors use drops of liquid
nitrogen to destroy molluscum lesions. Others apply a small
electric current with a needle. Researchers do not know
precisely how MC spreads. Some think it spreads from one
region of the skin to another through cuts in the skin. So if
you have MC on your face, shaving may cause it to spread.
Discuss with your doctor whether it would be helpful to use
an antibiotic solution like Betadine scrub on your face
before shaving. Peeling agents are sometimes used to remove
the lesions. Larger lesions usually require local anesthetic,
and cutting or scraping. The doctor or dermatologist has to
remove the core, or body of the lesion to be certain it is
gotten rid of. Sometimes this is done with an electric charge
with a small needle to the top of the lesion, followed by
cutting out the core of the molluscum. This kind of surgical
removal can be painful and take a long time, because there
can be hundreds of the tiny lesions. But if less intrusive
treatments don't work, this may be necessary.