Molluscum contagiosum is a poxvirus infection that manifests in the form of skin infection. It is a highly contagious disease and not only spreads from one person to another, but may even spread from one part of a person’s body to another. Young children are mostly suffer from this disease and even elderly may be affected by it, commonly those with weakened immune system. The skin lesions are raised papules with central pit that is skin colored and ranges from a single lesion to multiple lesions, which may vary from 2 to 5 mm in diameter.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Cure Molluscum Contagiosum?
There are various conventional topical medications such as tretinoin, cantharidin, salicylic acid, potassium hydroxide, silver nitrate, trichloroacetic acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, dilute povidone iodine, bichloracetic acid and podophyllotoxin. These agents have been effective in the treatment of molluscum contagiosum, but none of them are FDA approved for its treatment.
Similar to various conventional treatment options, there are myriad of home remedies that are touted to treat molluscum contagiosum including tea tree oil, coconut oil, vitamins, Epsom salt bath, honey, clove oil, garlic, lemon juice, aloe vera, and apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is touted to help get rid of molluscum contagiosum as it is considered a natural antiseptic, antiviral and anti-inflammatory agent that prevents the spread of infection. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) diluted with water is applied to the lesions at least 2-4 times daily and covered with a band-aid to prevent it from spreading. ACV can be applied to the lesions until they diminish or disappear. Although, ACV treatment is not FDA approved, it has helped some patients and disappointed others.
It is advisable to consult a doctor or a dermatologist before treating molluscum contagiosum infection.
How Does The Molluscum Contagiosum Infection Spread?
Since, it is a highly contagious infection; it may spread via direct skin-to-skin contact or fomites such as towels, clothing or other accessory that may have come in contact with the infected person. This mode of transmission is mostly seen in children. The infection may also spread from sexual contact in adults; however, adults may also get infected via non-sexual contact. It can be autoinoculated by itching and manipulating the lesion that may spread the infection to the adjacent skin or other parts of the body where infected hand is rubbed or touched.
How Does Molluscum Contagiosum Present Itself?
Molluscum contagiosum virus only affects the epidermis, thus skin is the only infected organ. It causes raised bumps in the skin, which are filled with fluid and has a slight dimple in the center of the lesion. The number of lesions largely depends on the immunocompromised state of the patient; more immunocompromised the patients, the more severe is the infection, thus more the number of lesions on the affected area.
Generally, the lesions are painless, but they may cause soreness or itching that may prompt the patient to scratch them and they may spread to other parts of the body.
How Is Molluscum Contagiosum Treated?
In most cases, when the patient is immunocompetent; molluscum contagiosum infection is mild and a self-limiting disease. It resolves spontaneously after few months; however, some lesions may take a couple of years to resolve. No intervention is particularly needed, although it may deter autoinoculation and transmission to other individuals and also help with clinical appearance of the lesion. Treatment may be necessary in severely immunocompromised patients where the infection is severe or in persistent cases.
Treatment modality depends on the severity of infection and range from topical medications (such as cantharidin, tretinoin, salicylic acid, potassium hydroxide, lactic acid, trichloroacetic acid) to cryotherapy, curettage, lasers, antiviral therapy and immune response stimulation. Watchful waiting is considered the best management for mild infections and infections in children as the immune system works to get rid of the virus. Severely immunocompromised individuals such as HIV/AIDS patients may need one or more intervention for the infection to clear off.
Nigam, P. K. (2019). Molluscum contagiosum: more than a pediatric infection. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 8(3), 696-699. doi:10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_62_19
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