Molluscum, being a common viral infection, is caused by a pox virus. It presents as small bumps on the skin which look similar to warts. Molluscum is contagious, and can spread to other areas of the body, favouring warm corners like armpits, especially. Fortunately, it is a self-limiting disease, the infection is harmless although it can be an annoyance, which is why treatment including cantharidin is so effective.
Understanding molluscum and cantharidin treatments
Molluscum can heal on its own and rarely persists for longer than a few months to a year. During this time, cantharidin treatments can keep the symptoms under control. This allows the patient to feel more comfortable, improving his or her quality of life. Molluscum is generally considered a childhood illness. An adult’s immune system is well equipped to fight the infection, unless an individual is immune-compromised.
Treating molluscum without the fuss
There are various ways to treat the wart-like bumps of mollsuscum, known as papules. These include physical destruction, electrodessication, and topical creams. Cantharidin remains one of the most-used and effective methods. The removal of the papules is more comfortable for the patient during the procedure. For the most part, the procedure is painless, which makes it especially great for children, the most susceptible to molluscum.
What is a cantharidin treatment?
Cantharidin is the medicine applied to the ‘bump’. It has roots in ancient Chinese medicine, for a variety of ailments. Today, we’ve harnessed its medical benefits in Dermatology to treat a variety of skin irregularities. It’s extracted from a beetle known as the blister beetle Cantharis vesicatoria. It’s applied at our practice, in a sterile environment, with great accuracy, only to affected areas of the skin. A skilled dermatologist needs to apply the treatment as it can cause burns and blisters to healthy skin.
What can I expect at the treatment?
- Dr. Khoza applies cantharidin to papules with great precision. After drying, it is to remain in contact with the skin for the number of hours Dr. Khoza recommends for you, following the treatment.
- Once you’ve waited for the number of hours advised you to, you can use soap and water to wash the medicine off your skin. During the course of the next 2 days, a blister will form where cantharidin had been.
- Remove the papule once the blister has dried or scabbed.
- The healing process from this point, will take about a week.
Care after your cantharidin treatment
Cantharidin rarely presents side effects especially if the treated area is clean and done under supervision and with precision. To be extra safe, Dr. Khoza will perform the treatment on only a select few papules first, to ensure there is no intolerance or side effects. Fortunately, side effects are extremely rare.
There are a few important points to keep in mind when you’re caring for your recently treated molluscum.
- Keep the area covered. If Dr. Khoza covered it with tape, leave it that way as it prevents the medication from spreading to uninfected skin. It’s a strong medication which needs to stay covered. It also helps to ensure the virus isn’t spread further, as molluscum is contagious.
2. Remember to wash the cantharidin off. Dr. Khoza will tell you at what time you need to remove the tape and wash your treated areas with soap and water. If you forget, it will keep blistering, don’t wait until you feel a painful reminder.
3. Keep the blistering areas clean. An antibacterial soap is perfect to wash the areas throughout the healing process. Vaseline can is also great to apply before you cover the papule with a plaster.
Cantharidin is the preferred treatment method for children as it is less painful than the alternatives. It is possible that some papules may resist the treatment, although, a follow up treatment will resolve the problem.
Another rare side effect of cantharidin treatments can be that a wart becomes enlarged. Once again, we can schedule a follow-up treatment to resolve the issue.
Severe reactions are extremely rare, however, if you experience:
-swelling and pain
please call the office at 031 581 2543. We’ll look at alternative treatment options to get the same effect.
Cantharidin – treating molluscum safely
Cantharidin is not as aggressive as freezing warts or papules off the skin with liquid nitrogen, but it certainly is better for children, as they battle with painful procedures. Often times repeat procedures are necessary to ‘get everything’. Depending on each individual’s needs, we’ll assess the best way to treat the problem. For many people, cantharidin achieves this, for many others another treatment is better. After all, there is no textbook human!
At our offices. Dr. Nokubonga Khoza is here to listen to your concerns and offer individualized, high level of patient care you seek. Book an appointment today!