Dr. Russo's Corner

WARTS/MOLLUSCUM To Treat Or Not To Treat?

Common warts and molluscum contagiosum lesions are benign but bothersome viral skin lesions that are common in children. For molluscum the peak age is 2-7 years and for common warts the peak age is 7-15 years.

Should I remove the "seed" of the wart?

Neither molluscum nor warts have roots or seeds. Molluscum lesions have a cheesy consistency with the viral load located within the upper skin layer. Warts form a protective callus and invade the deeper skin layer. The black dots noted are clotted micro capillaries within the skin.

Does duct tape work?

A study in 2005 reported resolution of warts in 22% of cases with duct tape treatment vs. non treated warts. However, this study also noted a recurrence rate up to 75% by 6 months.

Other than watchful waiting, all currently available treatments are not cures but destruction methods either with chemicals or cryotherapy. Most are painful and some can result in scarring.

For treatment of common warts we often recommend duct tape, herbal preparations (Wart No More) as well as paring the callus formation and/or soaking the warts to soften the callus and then removing some of the dead skin with a nail file, being careful not to cause bleeding. This allows for faster and deeper penetration of the herbal treatment into the lesion.

Treatment of molluscum consists primarily of watchful waiting. There are herbal products also available such as Molluscum No More. The virus can spread in water so bathing children separately is a good cautious measure.

The take home message is that these viruses are benign. Recognizing that warts are a cosmetic nuisance, try herbal remedies first. Avoid painful therapies that may leave scarring.

Kathleen Russo, MD FAAP