Molluscum contagiosum: to treat or not to treat? Experience with 170 children in an outpatient clinic setting in the northeastern United States

Pediatr Dermatol. 2015 May-Jun;32(3):353-7. doi: 10.1111/pde.12504. Epub 2015 Jan 30.


Despite the high prevalence of molluscum contagiosum (MC) in children, epidemiologic data on this common self-limited viral infection is limited. In this report we review our experience with the demographic characteristics, clinical characteristics, management, and time to resolution of MC in 170 children. A retrospective medical chart review and telephone survey were conducted on children younger than 16 years of age evaluated for MC in the Division of Pediatric Dermatology at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, Baltimore, Maryland, from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2011. Of 170 children with MC, 51.8% were female and 77.1% were Caucasian. The median age at diagnosis was 5 years and 46.5% had a history of atopic dermatitis (AD). Children with AD had significantly more MC lesions than those without (p < 0.05); 72.9% of children did not receive any treatment. MC lesions completely cleared within 12 months in 45.6% of treated and 48.4% of untreated children and within 18 months in 69.5% of treated and 72.6% of untreated children. Treatment (if any), sex, race, diagnosing physician, number of lesions at diagnosis, number of anatomic locations, or history of AD did not predict time to resolution of MC lesions. MC lesions completely resolved in approximately 50% of children within 12 months and in 70% within 18 months. Treatment did not shorten the time to resolution.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Molluscum Contagiosum / diagnosis
  • Molluscum Contagiosum / epidemiology
  • Molluscum Contagiosum / therapy*
  • New England / epidemiology
  • Prevalence