Water warts are one of the most common issues we see in children in our clinics. It’s also frequently searched in Google. Dr Dex explains what they are and how we can treat them.
What are water warts?
Molluscum contagiosum is commonly known as “water warts.” It’s a common viral skin infection of childhood caused by a poxvirus known as molluscum contagiosum virus.
Who can get molluscum?
Molluscum mainly affects infants and children under 10, and occurs most often in children attending childcare or preschool. Even though it is infectious, it is not a serious condition, and having molluscum is not a reason to keep a child home form school. Children with atopic eczema are more prone to molluscum. Teenagers and adults are much less prone to molluscum.
What does molluscum look like?
Molluscum papules are small (less than 6mm across) and may be white, pink or brown. They are often seen in clusters on the armpits, behind the knees, groin or genital areas. Unlike Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), they do not appear on the palms or soles, but may sometimes appear in the mouth. Old molluscum may become inflamed or crusted, and scratched bumps may be infected. Most children will be completely well with molluscum.
What can we do about molluscum?
Most of the time, molluscum will get better by itself, although this can take up to 1 to 2 years. See your GP to confirm it is molluscum and not some other rash like HFMD – a diagnosis can be useful to clear your child to continue preschool. Cover the rash with loose clothing and make sure the skin is well moisturized. Avoid scratching the rash as it can spread along the skin, and cause a bacterial infection from contaminated fingernails. We can control the spread of molluscum in the household by making sure personal items like towels and toys are not shared.
Some children may have a more severe molluscum rash, in which case they may be referred to a dermatologist for freeze therapy (cryotherapy) or curettage. These treatments can be painful, so are usually reserved for older children or teenagers.
Dr. Dex Khor graduated from University College London in 1999 and later obtained Membership of the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. Dr Dex worked in UK Paediatric wards before returning to Singapore. Dr Dex has also worked in KK children’s hospital. Dr Dex is also a regular volunteer with the Singapore Grand Prix Medical Team since 2017 and is fluent in Mandarin.
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