Water warts (molluscum contagiosum)

    • Brief

    • Water warts (molluscum contagiosum) is a mild, infectious disease of the skin. The infection causes small bumps on the skin. It is caused by a poxvirus and can be passed from person to person through direct contact, or through shared towels, clothes or by contact with surfaces. You can also infect yourself by scratching the bumps, causing the infection to spread to other parts of your skin.

      The main symptoms are bumps that appear on your face, neck, arms, legs or genitals. The bumps usually go away on their own within a few months. There is usually no need to treat this condition, except when it appears on your genitals or if you have weakened immune system. Treatment usually involves removing the bump by freezing or scraping. Medicines in the form of creams or tablets are used for children.

    • What are the symptoms?

    • The symptoms include skin bumps, called mollusca, that:

      • Are white, pink or the colour of your skin.
      • Are between the size of a pinhead to a pencil eraser.
      • Have a dimple in the middle.
      • They can sometimes become red and itchy.
    • What are the causes?

    • This condition is caused by a poxvirus.

    • What are the things that put you at risk?

    • You are at risk of getting this infection if:

      • If your immune system is weak, for instance when you  have HIV or are undergoing cancer treatment.
      • If you live in humid overcrowded rooms.
      • If you have eczema.
      • If you frequently take part in contact sports.
    • When to visit a doctor?

    • You should see your healthcare provider when you have bumps on your skin to make sure what the condition is.

    • How to prevent?

    • To prevent this infection:

      • Always practice good hygiene by washing your hands regularly.
      • Avoid sharing personal items, such as clothes, bedsheets and towels with other people.
    • How to manage and treat?

    • Self-care tips:

      • Avoid sharing any of items of clothes or towels with other people so you don't spread the infection.
      • Keep your skin clean and dry.
      • Avoid all forms of contact sports and swimming until your bumps have cleared.
      • Avoid sexual intercourse until your bumps have cleared.
      • Try not to scratch or remove the bumps yourself. This may cause the infection to spread to other parts of your body.

      Medical treatment:

      • Your healthcare provider can remove the bumps. This is often a painful procedure and may not be suitable for children.
      • Your healthcare provider may prescribe podophyllotoxin (0.5%) cream for use at home. Imiquimod is recommended for mucous surfaces since it is less irritating.
      • Children may receive cimetidine, but this is less effective for facial bumps.
      • People with a weak immune system will benefit more from disease control. Treatments with interferon injected into the bumps may not be effective without disease control.
    • Kulawa cares

    • When you recover from the infection, you run the risk of contracting the condition again. This does not mean that the poxvirus remains in your body but that you have come in contact with the poxvirus again.

      The most common complication is a bacterial or fungal infection of open sores from scratching the bumps.