Alternative Treatment of Molluscum Contagiosum
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin condition caused by a strain of the poxvirus. When you come into direct skin-to-skin contact with someone carrying the pathogen, or even touch a contaminated object, you may develop the small, sometimes red papules associated with this viral infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, most doctors recommend some sort of medical procedure, such as surgical removal, cryotherapy or laser therapy, to treat this condition. However, there is an alternative form of treatment that may provide positive results.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the more beneficial alternative treatments for molluscum contagiosum is cimetidine, an H2 blocker usually used to treat digestive conditions, such as ulcers, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It appears that this medication not only blocks the effects of histamine in the stomach, but may also counteract your body's immune response to the poxvirus that's actually causing the papules.
A study performed by British Columbia's Children's Hospital indicates that 40 mg per kilogram (mg/kg) of cimetidine each day can clear up the papules in as little as 2 months. Normally, it would take upward of a year for molluscum contagiosum to improve without surgical removal, cryotherapy or laser therapy, but this medication greatly speeds recovery time, thereby reducing the progression of infection and exposure to others.
Besides the obvious clearance of papules, the use of oral cimetidine has other significant benefits, especially when it comes to children. Not only is it easier to administer than surgery, cryotherapy or laser therapy, but it's also painless and doesn't pose the risk of scarring, according to the CDC.
As with almost any medication, cimetidine isn't without its own set of side effects. Some of the more common side effects are headaches, diarrhea, drowsiness, dizziness or light-headedness. It may also cause some changes in mood or emotion, resulting in excitement, depression or even confusion.
Since cimetidine isn't necessarily approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of molluscum contagiosum at this time, you may need to ask your doctor if you or your child may benefit from its uses. All other "alternative" treatments, such as duct tape or even urine, aren't proven effective and should be avoided. Always consult with a physician before using alternative methods, as they may do more harm than good.
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