Clearing Up a Skin Condition?

My daughter has a number of blister-like bumps on her back and shoulders which become irritated when disturbed. She was diagnosed with molluscum contagiosum. The doctor told me it was a common virus and should clear up on its own. That was almost a year ago. Do you know of any natural treatments to hurry the process along?

– June 28, 2004

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin disease that commonly occurs in children. It causes small dome-shaped growths that can be pink or flesh-colored and often become red and inflamed. The growths usually are found in the folds of the arm or groin but also may appear in clusters on the chest, abdomen and buttocks, and sometimes on the face and eyelids. Children get molluscum contagiosum from each other via skin-to-skin contact. Fortunately, the condition usually clears up completely without scarring, but it can be a long time – sometimes up to five years – for a case to resolve. (Six to 18 months is more usual.) In adults molluscum contagiosum is a sexually transmitted disease generally seen on the genitals.

Dermatologists may elect not to treat small children for molluscum contagiosum. If treatment is suggested it may involve eliminating the bumps in much the same way that warts are removed – by freezing them off with liquid nitrogen or destroying them with acids or blistering solutions, scraping them off with a sharp instrument or treating them with an electric needle. In some cases, laser therapy may be recommended, or a dermatologist may prescribe a retinoid cream or gel or a topical antiviral medication to be applied to the skin.

While it can be frustrating to wait for molluscum contagiosum to disappear, the disorder doesn’t progress to other health problems. I don’t know of any natural remedies that would cure the condition, but you might speed things along by taking your daughter to a hypnotherapist. Skin conditions often respond very well to hypnotic suggestion. You also could try an immune-boosting product with antiviral properties such as astragalus or a blend of medicinal mushrooms. The latter is a mixture of mushrooms that comes in a liquid form. I would recommend half a dropperful (about 15 drops) 1-2 times daily. Give it a two month trial. It is nontoxic.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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