Conference Coverage

Study evaluates OTC treatments for molluscum contagiosum



Most over-the-counter (OTC) products for molluscum contagiosum (MC) do not include sufficient information about their plant-based ingredients or appropriate dosing, according to an analysis of eight such products available to U.S. consumers

“It’s important for clinicians who see children with molluscum to be aware of the many products marketed to patients and to be able to provide objective information about them,” senior author Elaine Siegfried, MD, said in an interview following the annual meeting of the Society for Pediatric Dermatology, where the abstract was presented during a poster session.

In the text of their abstract, Dr. Siegfried, professor of pediatrics and dermatology at Saint Louis University, and coauthors Isaac Hoft, of Open Mind Holistics in Ft. Collins, Colo., and Samantha K. Ong, BA, a student at SLU, noted that MC primarily infects children, with an annual incidence of 8%. “Although the disease is self-limited, associated symptoms, contagion and an average 1-year duration prompt concern and frequent medical visits,” they wrote.

The optimal treatment for MC has not been defined and there is currently no approved medication approved for the condition, although three products are in development: VP-102 (cantharidin) by Verrica Pharmaceuticals; SB206, a topical antiviral by Novan; and 10%-15% KOH formulation by the Gurina Foundation.

But many OTC products have been marketed to treat the condition. To identify the OTC products and to assess accompanying information related to safety, efficacy, and cost, the researchers performed an internet search using the terms “molluscum” plus “treatment,” “treatment at home,” “relief,” and “medication.” Eight products were identified for analysis: Conzerol (Elroselabs), Molleave (Innovative Med), Mollenol (Jeva Laboratories), MolluscumBLAST (Revitalize Life Organics), Molluscum Away Patches (Molluscum Away), Naturasil (Nature’s Innovation), Terrasil (Advanced Skincare % Topical Solutions), and Zymaderm (Naturopathix). Package sizes ranged from 0.78 to 1.5 ounces, and prices ranged from about $19 to almost $55.

Dr. Siegfried and colleagues found that all products provided instructions on application and use but most package labels did not include sufficient information about their plant-based ingredients or appropriate dosing. Six of the eight products contained Thuja occidentalis (Arbor vitae), a coniferous cedar whose essential oil has been used in homeopathic products for its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Lemon extract, tea tree oil, and other botanicals were present in no more than three products each. Only two of the products provided information about the number of lesions that could be treated per package.

“The lack of national oversight as well as robust methods for high-level data analysis make safety and efficacy unclear for a Thuja extract marketed to treat MC,” the researchers wrote. “Numerous adverse drug events and positive intradermal skin tests related to Thuja have been reported.”

Dr. Siegfried added that many OTC products offer a money-back guarantee, “so when seeing a patient who failed to respond to one of these products, encourage them, at least, to request a refund, but to also submit a comment about lack of efficacy, in order to provide more balanced Internet information.”

Dr. Siegfried disclosed that she has served as an investigator and consultant for Verrica Pharmaceuticals, and as a consultant and Data Safety Monitoring board member for Novan, two of the companies currently developing drugs to treat molluscum. Her coauthors had no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Next Article: