Diagnosing a Child's Skin Problems Can Be Tricky; Spots, Lumps or Bumps on Your Child's Skin - Could It Be Molluscum Contagiosum? Jonathan Olsen, Postgraduate Researcher at the Institute of Primary Care and Public Health at Cardiff University, Outlines the Ongoing Research into This Common Condition

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Olsen

SKIN conditions are more common than you might think, with up to 24% of the population visiting their GP about it.

Skin conditions can be irritating, physically affecting sleep and day-to-day activities, also impacting on quality of life. For children they can sometimes lead to name calling, teasing and bullying.

Molluscum contagiosum, known generally as molluscum, is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages, but is seen mostly in children up to 14, especially in those under 10.

The name molluscum contagiosum refers to small skin-coloured spots suddenly appearing on the skin.

These viral spots are distinctive in appearance, having a small crater-like dip in the centre and appearing in a small localised crop, usually on the arms, back, tummy, or legs, which can last months or years. In some instances they can become troublesome, especially when accompanied by eczema, where the spots can be inflamed, itchy and sometimes get infected.

Sam, a parent of a young child with molluscum contagiosum, described the impact on her child, how she searched the internet to find out what her child's spots were, and what information she could find about molluscum contagiosum.

"The size of the spots caused skin irritation on his tummy; he was constantly scratching them through clothes and often made his skin raw" she said.

"Although it was easy enough to diagnose without the help of a doctor, finding out what to do was much more difficult. No website seemed to contain comprehensive information. My GP confirmed the diagnosis over the telephone but, even then, the advice about what to do was limited."

In the UK around 1% of children will get molluscum. There is a lot still unknown about the condition. This means when a doctor diagnoses molluscum there is little information he or she can share with parents, such as how long the spots will last, will siblings develop spots, and does taking part in certain activities help the spots clear-up. …