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Skin Infections

With names such as warts, herpes and pox, skin infections sound very unpleasant. But, skin infections are common, and, although they may feel uncomfortable, or we may be embarrassed by a skin infection such as herpes, there are treatments available.

Our experienced dermatologists will discuss your symptoms with you in confidence and will suggest the most effective treatments for your condition. Here's more information on some common skin infections.


Genital warts

Genital warts are also caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and are the second most common form of sexually transmitted infection. They appear as small, fleshy growths or bumps around the genitalia.

Genital warts are usually transmitted sexually and many carriers of the virus will not have any symptoms or anything visible on the genitalia. If you carry the HPV virus, then you should use a condom during sex to reduce the risk of spreading it to your partner.

Women should have regular gynaecological check-ups and cervical smear tests, as the virus may affect the cervix and increase the risk of cervical cancer. Your gynaecologist may take a swab to check if the HPV virus is present on your cervix.

The HPV vaccination given to girls before they become sexually active should help to reduce the prevalence of HPV viruses and genital warts (and in turn, cervical cancer).

Genital warts are difficult to treat and it may take several months for treatment to be effective. Over the counter drugs for treating warts will not work on genital warts, so you will need to speak to one of our GPs or dermatologists for advice. The warts may need freezing (cryotherapy), or treatment with special creams. You should avoid any sexual contact during treatment until you are fully healed.


Pox - Molluscum Contagiosum (MC)

Molluscum Contagiosum (MC), also known as 'pox', is a highly contagious viral skin infection. It's most common in children and young adults, but may affect people of any age. The main symptom of MC is small, shiny spots on the skin, usually with a small dimple in the centre of them. The spots can vary in number and size and are most often found on the body (trunk). They're not painful, but they may be itchy.

MC is caused by the Molluscum Contagiosum virus (MCV). Most people are resistant to this virus, so, although it's contagious, you're unlikely to develop this condition if you're exposed to it.

It's thought that MC occurs more frequently in children with eczema, so if your child is affected it's important to speak to one of our dermatologists who will advise on how to treat the eczema and manage the pox virus at the same time.


Treating Molluscum Contagiosum (MC)

Treatment is not recommended, as the virus should not interfere with day-to-day activities and it usually clears up on its own. However, this may take up to 12-18 months. During this time you should avoid scratching, squeezing or picking the spots, as this may cause pain or bleeding and may help to spread the virus.

In very rare cases, a cream or lotion may be prescribed, but this is not usually needed.

Scratching the skin can spread the virus, so if your child is suffering from eczema it's important to treat the eczema effectively to prevent them from scratching.

Adults are not prone to the Molluscum Contagiosum virus unless their immune system is deficient. So, if an adult repeatedly experiences infections, then testing for HIV is recommended.