top of page

Over Counter Treatment For Molluscum

Dr Ryan Goerig

Molluscum contagiosum is a common skin disease that primarily affects children ages 2-9. It is caused by a non-cancerous virus that results in many pink skin bumps forming all over the body.

Currently, there are both topical and oral treatments for molluscum contagiosum infection. Sometimes, invasive medical procedures, such as burning or scraping the skin bumps, are performed in doctor’s offices for the treatment of molluscum.

In addition, medicated creams that are sometimes used “off-label” to treat molluscum are not very effective and can result in skin discoloration and other side effects. Medicated prescription creams are not FDA approved for the treatment of molluscum.

Prescriptions like Aldara, tretinoin (Retin-A), or podophyllotoxin (Condylox) are only 20-30% effective and can cause serious side effects in small children. In addition, they also do not stop the spread of the infection.

Consequently, over-the-counter treatments are becoming more and more popular because they are made with more natural ingredients that are safer for developing children. That being said, there are key differences among over-the-counter treatments that are important to learn about before deciding which treatment is best for your child. Keep reading below for more information regarding this common question.

What is the Difference Between Over the Counter Treatments and In Office Treatments?

First, there are differences between medical procedures performed in a doctor’s office and topical prescription creams. As mentioned, burning the molluscum bumps with liquid nitrogen or scraping the bumps with a curette (small scraping knife-like instrument) is around 30-50% effective.

Unfortunately, the downsides to these treatments are that they are painful for young children, can cause scarring, and don’t stop the spread of the infection. In addition, the costs of in office treatments can be significant and can amount to hundreds of dollars. They include doctor’s co-pays, deductible bills, and the cost of missing work to drive the child to the visit. Over-the-counter treatments tend to be a lot less expensive and are more convenient because they can be used in the privacy of your own home.

What is the Best Over the Counter Molluscum Treatment?

Some over-the-counter treatments are liquid in nature and are applied to the molluscum bumps. The downside of these treatments is that they tend to dry up on the skin quickly. In addition, liquid treatments do not prevent the spread of the infection.

What Cream can I use for Molluscum?

Various prescription and over-the-counter creams are available to treat molluscum infection. Unfortunately, the main downside is that none of these treatments prevent the spread of the highly contagious molluscum virus. The creams are not very effective (even less effective than prescription topical creams) at actually killing the virus and reducing the size of the molluscum bumps, let alone clearing the lesions. As a dermatologist, I do not recommend these various creams to children with molluscum infection.


bottom of page