Molluscum contagiosum is a very common infection of the skin caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus. It produces benign, raised lesions or bumps on the upper layers of your skin. Usually, there are numerous bumps clustered together and may be of varying sizes.
One characteristic sign is that the bumps have a small indentation or dot on the top, which may become inflamed, red or irritated. The bumps are shiny in appearance, typically either flesh-colored or pink in tone, and are usually painless but may be itchy.
These bumps often appear about seven weeks after being exposed to the virus. Sometimes, the bumps do not appear for many months.
The bumps may appear on virtually any area of the body, with the most common areas being around the eyes, face, neck, armpits and arms. The infection may also occur on the genitals, lower abdomen and inner upper thighs, if the infection was sexually transmitted.
Anyone can get molluscum contagiosum, but children between the ages of 1 and 10, people who live in tropical climates, people with weakened immune systems and people who have atopic dermatitis are at a higher risk.
While not life-threatening, this viral skin infection can cause a lot of discomfort if left untreated. Also, there is a risk of spreading the infection to friends, family members and others with whom you come into close contact. The infection spreads through direct person-to-person contact and through contact with contaminated objects.
Many natural treatments can help deal with molluscum contagiosum. Home remedies focus on eliminating the virus causing the condition, thereby reducing the symptoms and speeding up the healing process.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for molluscum contagiosum.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
An effective treatment for molluscum contagiosum is apple cider vinegar. Being rich in antiviral properties, it helps kill the virus responsible for this infection. It penetrates into the skin quickly and eliminates the source of the infection.
Plus, it is rich in vitamins and minerals that give a boost to your immune system, which helps speed up recovery.
- Soak a cotton ball in raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and apply it on the affected area. Cover the area with a bandage and leave it on overnight. The next morning, remove the bandage and wash the area with lukewarm water. Repeat once daily for a few weeks. If the apple cider vinegar is irritating to the skin, dilute it with an equal amount of water.
- Alternatively, add 1 cup of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a bathtub of warm water. Soak in this water for 20 minutes once daily.
- You can also mix 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink it twice daily to work against the virus from the inside out.
2. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and antiviral agent. When applied topically, it penetrates the skin and fights the molluscum contagiosum virus.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology reports that the combination of tea tree essential oil with organically bound iodine offers a safe therapeutic alternative in the treatment of childhood molluscum.
- Dab a cotton ball in tea tree oil. Apply it on the skin where the bumps appear. Repeat 3 or 4 times daily for quick results.
- Alternatively, mix 4 or 5 drops of tea tree oil in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Apply this mixture on the affected areas. Leave it on for a couple of hours before rinsing the area with warm water. Repeat once or twice daily for a few weeks.
Note: Do not consume tea tree oil.
3. Grapefruit Seed Extract
Another highly effective remedy to combat molluscum contagiosum is grapefruit seed extract or GSE.
GSE has strong antimicrobial properties and is believed to be effective against more than 800 bacterial and viral agents.
Direct application of GSE aids in clearing up the molluscum contagiosum bumps or papules and helps control the infection to avoid spreading the disease to the surrounding skin.
- Add 4 or 5 drops of grapefruit seed extract in 1 teaspoon of water in. Dip a cotton swab in the solution and dab it on the affected skin. Cover with a bandage and leave it on for 5 to 7 hours. Repeat twice daily. Follow this treatment for 1 week to help the papules dry up.
- You can also mix 10 drops of GSE in 5 ounces of water and consume it at least 3 times daily for a few weeks.
Ingestion of grapefruit seed extract may take longer to show visible results but will aid your body in fighting this viral infection.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide has strong antiseptic properties that make it an effective remedy to control the spread of molluscum contagiosum on your body.
Topical application of hydrogen peroxide solution directly on the papules draws out the pus and infected center, causing the bumps to pop and eventually dry out.
- Dip a q-tip in some hydrogen peroxide solution and dab it on the raised bumps or papules.
- Use bandage to cover them up.
- Leave it on for 5 to 7 hours or overnight.
- Rinse the affected areas with warm water and dry gently with a soft towel.
- Repeat twice daily.
- Do this for at least 1 week to help dry out the papules.
1% Hydrogen peroxide cream has also been found helpful for treating a molluscum contagiosum infection in infants.
5. Australian Lemon Myrtle
Australian lemon myrtle is another effective home remedy. It contains many antimicrobial nutrients and can also help eliminate the dead cells and improve the growth of new skin.
A 2004 study published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy reports that applying a 10 percent solution of Australian lemon myrtle once a day reduced symptoms by 90 percent or more in children suffering from molluscum contagiosum.
- Add 1 part lemon myrtle oil to 9 parts olive oil and mix well.
- Apply this solution on the molluscum bumps.
- Do it 3 or 4 times a day for several weeks.
6. Clove Oil
Clove Oil has strong antimicrobial properties that make it an extremely effective remedy against molluscum contagiosum. It will also help prevent the spread of infection.
However, this is a strong oil and may sting quite a bit; so it is best to dilute this oil before application.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of 100 percent pure clove oil with 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin coconut oil.
- Dip a q-tip in this oil mix and apply directly on the raised bumps or papules.
- Cover with a cotton pad and medical tape.
- Keep it on for 3 to 4 hours. Then, rinse it off with warm water and gently pat dry with tissues.
- Use this remedy 3 to 4 times a day and leave overnight if possible.
- Do this for 1 week. The papules will begin to dry out and eventually disappear.
7. Colloidal Oatmeal
To soothe irritated and itchy skin due to molluscum contagiosum, colloidal oatmeal is very effective.
Colloidal oatmeal is finely ground oatmeal that is rich in fatty acids and can keep the skin moisturized. Also, it has anti-irritating and anti-inflammatory properties that provide instant relief from itching.
- Add 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal to a bathtub filled with lukewarm water. Soak in this water for at least 15 minutes. Enjoy this soothing bath up to 3 times a day, depending on the severity of your condition.
- Alternatively, add a little water to 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal to form a paste. Apply this paste on the itchy bumps, cover it with a cloth and leave it on for 30 minutes. Use this remedy once daily.
8. Oil of Oregano
Another very effective molluscum contagiosum home remedy is oil of oregano. This oil has powerful antimicrobial properties that help deal with the root cause of this skin infection.
Oregano oil also helps boost the immune system to fight off the infection quickly.
- Mix 6 drops of oregano oil into 1 tablespoon of olive or almond oil.
- Apply it to the affected area and leave it on for a few hours.
- Wash it off with lukewarm water and pat dry the area thoroughly.
- Do it 3 or 4 times daily.
You can also use clove oil instead of oil of oregano.
9. Indian Lilac
Indian lilac, also known as neem, is another potent antiviral herb that can be used to treat molluscum contagiosum.
Neem has an active ingredient known as azadirachtin, which is best known as an antiviral agent that can effectively neutralize and eliminate the virus responsible for this skin infection.
Also, it boosts the immune system to help fight off the virus.
You can choose from the following neem remedies, depending on what is convenient for you.
- Wash and grind a handful of neem leaves into a paste. Apply it on the affected area. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water. Do this 3 or 4 times a day.
- Boil a handful of neem leaves in a pan filled with water, until the water is reduced to one-third. Allow the solution to cool, then use it to rinse the affected area a couple of times a day.
- Mix 5 or 6 drops of neem oil with 1 tablespoon of olive or coconut oil. Apply it on the affected area for 20 to 30 minutes, once or twice daily.
10. Duct Tape Occlusion
If you have skin bumps, whether caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus or any other reason, duct tape can help get rid of them.
In fact, it is one of the simplest as well as effective home remedies for molluscum contagiosum. Duct tape deprives the affected skin of oxygen, which in turn helps kill the virus. It also prevents the infection from spreading to other people or other areas of the body.
- Put duct tape over the affected area and leave it on overnight.
- Replace the duct tape the next morning.
- Repeat as needed.
Use this remedy on non-hairy areas.
- Do not pick, rub or scratch at the bumps, as it can worsen the infection and delay the healing process.
- Wash your hands regularly, especially before and after touching the area.
- Wash the affected area with mild soap and water regularly to keep it clean.
- Do not share personal items like towels, clothing and other things.
- If you have molluscum contagiosum on or near your genitals, avoid sex until the bumps are treated and have completely disappeared.
- Use a water tight bandage to cover your bumps when going to the swimming pool.
- Do not participate in sports, such as wrestling, gymnastics and swimming.
- Do not shave any area of skin that has the bumps.
- Apply extra-virgin coconut oil on the affected area to help soothe the skin.
- Take elderberry tea 2 or 3 times a day to strengthen your immune system and control the infection. You can also take this herb in supplement form.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
About Dr. Niyati Sharma, MBBS: Dr. Sharma completed her MBBS from University of Adelaide, Australia in 2007. She completed her Pediatrics Dermatology Fellowship in 2018 from Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital, USA.
Dr. Sharma currently sees patients at Monash Health, Victoria, Australia.