Interventions for cutaneous molluscum contagiosum

Johannes C. van der Wouden*, Renske van der Sande, Lisette W. A. van Suijlekom-Smit, Marjolein Berger, Christopher Butler, Sander Koning

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)
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Molluscum contagiosum is a common skin infection, caused by a pox virus. The infection will usually resolve within months in people with a normal immune system. Many treatments have been used for molluscum contagiosum but a clear evidence base supporting them is lacking.

This is an updated version of the original Cochrane Review published in Issue 2, 2006.

Objectives To assess the effects of management strategies (including waiting for natural resolution) for cutaneous, non-genital molluscum contagiosum in otherwise healthy people.

Search strategy

In June 2009 we updated our searches of the Cochrane Skin Group Specialised Register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) in T h e Cochrane Library ( Issue 2, 2009), MEDLINE, EMBASE, and LILACS. We also searched ongoing trials registers, reference lists, and contacted pharmaceutical companies and experts in the field.

Selection criteria

We investigated randomised controlled trials (RCTs) for the treatment of molluscum contagiosum. We excluded trials on sexually transmitted molluscum contagiosum and in people with lowered immunity (including those with HIV infection).

Data collection and analysis

Two authors independently selected studies, assessed methodological quality, and extracted data from selected studies.

Main results

Eleven studies, with a total number of 495 participants, examined the effects of topical (9 studies), systemic, and homoeopathic interventions (1 study each). Limited evidence was found for the efficacy of sodium nitrite co-applied with salicylic acid compared to salicylic acid alone (risk ratio (RR) 3.50, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.23 to 9.92); for Australian lemon myrtle oil compared to its vehicle, olive oil (RR 17.88, 95% CI 1.13 to 282.72); and for benzoyl peroxide cream compared to tretinoin (RR 2.20, 95% CI 1.01 to 4.79). No statistically significant differences were found for 10 other comparisons, most of which addressed 2 topical treatments.

Study limitations included no blinding (four studies), many dropouts (three studies), and no intention-to-treat analysis; small study sizes may have led to important differences being missed. None of the evaluated treatment options were associated with serious adverse effects.

Authors' conclusions

No single intervention has been shown to be convincingly effective in the treatment of molluscum contagiosum. The update identified six new studies, most of them reporting on interventions not included in the original version. However, the conclusions of the review did not change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number004767
Number of pages38
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local [therapeutic use]
  • Cimetidine [therapeutic use]
  • Hydroxides [therapeutic use]
  • Molluscum Contagiosum [drug therapy; therapy]
  • Potassium Compounds [therapeutic use]
  • Povidone-Iodine [therapeutic use]
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Remission, Spontaneous
  • Salicylic Acid [therapeutic use]
  • Sodium Nitrite [therapeutic use]
  • Humans


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