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Simply Squeezing is Best When Dealing With The Children's Skin Disease "Molluscum Contagiosum"

Originally Published 20 December 1999

Researchers from the University of Warwick, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham have found that one way of dealing with the lesions that afflict children suffering from Molluscum Contagiosum infections is simply to squeeze them under medical supervision and local anaesthetic.

Molluscum Contagiosum most commonly affects children between the ages of three and ten, afflicting them with wart like lesions. Left alone the illness will end spontaneously and the lesions disappear but this takes an average of 8 months and in some cases may take several years. The disease may restrict the child socially as, not only do they have to suffer the unsightly nature of the illness for a long period, but they are also contagious which can cause considerable stigma for them.

These factors (plus a suggestion that early treatment of the illness may reduce the duration of the infection and the level of scarring on the child left after the lesions have passed) have led many doctors to ignore the fact that the illness will pass of its own accord and to attempt to treat it - principally either by having the lesions squeezed under medical supervision and local anaesthetic, or by the more elaborate method of piercing each lesion with a sharpened orange stick impregnated with phenol.

The research looked at which of these two methods was the most effective and found that each was equally efficient at dealing with lesions. Both methods removed 76 per cent of the lesions within one month of treatment. However the team found that the simple squeezing method in their medical trial left less scarring. Around 81 per cent of the lesions treated by the phenol impregnated stick method showed some signs of scarring, but on those children on whom the squeezing technique was used only 37 per cent of the treated lesions showed any signs of scarring. The researchers stress however that this squeezing technique is best carried out under medical supervision and local anaesthetic.

Note for editors: The full research tem were Dr Chris O'Callaghan of the University of Warwick, Dr Marion White of the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Dr Richard Weller of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Dr Ruth MacSween of The Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham.

For further information contact:

Dr Chris O'Callaghan, Ecology and Epidemiology
Group, Dept of Biological Sciences,
University of Warwick, Tel: 024 76 522473
Email: ocall@oikos.warwick.ac.uk