More trustworthy sources of information, and data, are needed.
Molluscum contagiosum is generally a self-limited disease, and considered benign until it starts to bother the patient.
That’s when online research comes into play, and more often than not, good resources on this condition can be hard to come by, according to results of a study presented in a poster presentation at the Winter Clinical Dermatology Conference, held January 14 to 19, in Kauai, Hawaii.1
Researchers from St. Louis University School of Medicine and Verrica Pharmaceuticals, a company currently conducting phase 3 studies of a drug–device combination containing cantharidin 0.7% (VP-102: Verrica), presented results of the paper this week.
The team used a Google search in December 2018 to find the 13 most visited websites that contained information on molluscum contagiosum and reviewed those sites between December 2020 and February 2021. The researchers noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, the Society for Pediatric Dermatology, Kids’ Health, WebMD, Medcinenet, Wikipedia, Emedicine, Healthline, Medical News Today, VeryWell Health, and Up to Date were the most frequently visited sites related for this condition.
All the sites provided information about disease transmission, including that it was contagious, but only 85% described the condition as self-limiting, and 77% described the period of incubation or the fact that itch was a common symptom. Only about one-third noted that erythema was a common symptom, and 54% recommended a treatment course.
The most-commonly mentioned preventative measure mentioned on the websites was sexual activity modifications, and not disturbing or covering the lesions, but other preventative methods, like refraining from sharing personal items and cleaning contaminated surfaces were mentioned less frequently. Additionally, some websites even included so-called “preventative methods” that can cause spread of the disease.
“Sites, and the consumers who visit them, may benefit from peer-review and from using published literature as source references,” the researchers concluded in their findings.
In a separate presentation during the conference, Peter Lio, MD, FAAD, who is a clinical assistant professor of dermatology and pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, founding director of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Center, and founding partner of Medical Dermatology Associates of Chicago, said that arming patients with good information about treatment is key to successfully addressing this problem.2
Standard treatments for molluscum contagiosum include cryotherapy, curettage, tape stripping with silk tape, the duct tape method, and the application of topical salicylic acid and cantharidin.
Due to its relatively favorable safety-efficacy balance, Lio said he often chooses topical cantharidin as a first-line therapy, and said the phase 3 studies of the drug–device combination containing cantharidin 0.7% hold great possibilities for treatment.
“Overall, it’s going to be a good thing,” he said, noting, “We’re finally going to have an FDA-approved option.”
1. Siegfried E, Ong S, Andres J, Crosby C, Olivadoti M. Quality of information on molluscum contagiosum websites.
2. Lio P. What’s new and hot in dermatology. Presented at: 2022 Winter Clinical Dermatology Conference; January 14 to 19, 2022; Koloa, Hawaii, and virtual.