Sunday, April 3, 2011

A patient letter today. Molluscum contagiosum in Children.


Six months ago, my three year old son was diagnosed with Molluscum Contagiosum a viral skin infection that causes wart like lesions on the skin. The firm bumps (papules) are painless, but if scratched, the infection can spread to the surrounding skin and other people. I am writing this in hopes that the research, mistakes and lessons I learned over the past six months could possibly help to prevent a child from going though the pain and suffering that my son and family has recently gone though. And so I will start at the very beginning…

In September of 2011, I noticed after giving my son a bath that there were approximately 4 little bumps on his chest. The bumps were small, clear, and hardly noticeable, and because he has always had eczema (rough dry patches and little red bumps on his skin) I didn’t think much of it. I decided to put some of the steroid cream that the pediatrician had prescribed him since the day he was born on the bumps. I had used it religiously to keep his eczema under control. A few weeks went by and I noticed that the bumps remained on his chest, so I casually mentioned it to the pediatrician. I was asked to bring him in, and once examined, it was confirmed that although he did still have eczema, the bumps were Molluscum Contagiosum.

The pediatrician then proceeded to inform me that “it is not a serious skin disease, but it is highly contagious and since it is viral, there is no cure and it will eventually go away on its own within 1-3 years.” That just didn’t sit right with me, how could it take 3 years for these little bumps to go away? So I decided to take my son to a pediatric dermatologist. By the time I was able to get an appointment with the dermatologist (one month later), my son had 15 bumps on his chest. The dermatologist confirmed that it was Molluscum Contagiosum and told me that there were several treatments for the skin disease.

Treatments included either freezing the lesions off, removing them with a curette, removal by laser, or the use of certain chemicals to burn them off. And since all of these options leave the possibility of scarring, and none kill the virus, his advice was to ignore it and let it go away on its own. Again he reiterated that it could take a year or it could take three years depending on when my son’s body decided to recognize and fight the virus. He also prescribed a stronger steroid cream for my son since eczema aggravates the condition.

Two months later I noticed the bumps spreading on to my son’s genitals. I immediately and frantically called the dermatologist and was told to “just leave them alone and they will go away…eventually.” So I did what I was told to do since the doctors are the experts… right?

Three months later my son had approximately 50 warts all over his body. They were on his chest, arms, legs, and genitals. The day I saw one come out on his forehead I immediately made an appointment with another dermatologist for a second opinion. Something had to be done, what will he look like a year from now, or worse three years from now? Plus, for fear of passing it on to another child I keep him out of preschool, did not allow him to have play dates with other children and keep him away from all family members.

The second dermatologist examined my son and asked why he was not treated three months ago. She told me that the virus would continue to spread and that she normally treats it right away. Little did I know at that point what hell I was about to endure in the days to come and the pain and suffering that my son was going to go through.

The first procedure she decided to do was to cut the bumps off using a curette which is extremely sharp. The physician assistant put numbing cream on the little bumps and my three year old son was asked to sit naked for 30 minutes for the cream to take effect. Not only did he have to sit he had to sit still and not scratch the bumps that were now itching due to the numbing cream. Did I mention that he was three? Then my husband, the nurse and I had to hold him down while the physician assistant cut each bump off, one by one. The blood curdling screams were unbearable, but all I keep thinking was ok, maybe the disease will stop spreading so fast if we get them off. After a 15 minute procedure, about 25 bumps were removed and I was told to come back in two weeks to remove the rest.

However, in the meantime they prescribed Aldara, a genital wart cream. I was told to put the cream on the remaining bumps every night. The cream was supposed to stimulate his immune system to start fighting the virus. So, again, I did what I was told to do and listened to the doctor. Well, within one week all of the bumps that were cut off came back, and about 20 more appeared on my son’s body. His body had horrific scarring and the Aldara cream upset his eczema so much that his whole body felt like sand paper. I immediately called to make another appointment with the dermatologist. Surly, this was not normal! When she saw me back so soon, she seemed annoyed and asked me what the problem was.

I explained what had happen to his skin and how the bumps were spreading like crazy. She proceeded to examine my son, tell her assistant to use a Catherine treatment on the warts and walked out of the room. Apparently the Catherine treatment was supposed to make the little bumps blister and then pop, thus removing the virus filled papules. The assistant then proceeded to dot each bump, even the bumps on his genitals with a strong smelling liquid; I found out later (from the internet) that it was poisonous juice derived from a beetle.

I was told to wash the treatment off in three hours. Wow, I thought to myself, no tears this is a much better option than holding my son down and cutting them off. I did as I was told and washed the treatment off in the bath exactly three hours later. Approximately 4 hours after the treatment was washed off my son woke up at 10:00 pm screaming and crying. He was inconsolable. My husband and I tried to calm him down and ask what was wrong and he kept screaming, “help mommy, it hurts please help me and make the hurt go away.” We stripped his pajamas off of him and our jaws dropped. There were about 30 blisters ranging from the size of a grape to the size of a ping pong ball all over his body. I immediately called the dermatologist’s emergency line.

Fortunately, the doctor on call was the dermatologist that ordered the procedure and she told me to give him Tylenol and pop the blisters with a pin. So there we were, 11:00 at night trying to pop huge blisters on my three year old as he screamed, “please stop hurting me, please, please let me go, please don’t touch me.” There was so much fear in his eyes, and what hurt the most was that he feared his parents, the very parents that wanted the best for him, that wanted him to get better.
The next day my son woke up with a 103.5 fever. He had it for three days. He wouldn’t let us go near him and flinched every time we came close to him. His body was scarred from the cuts and now burnt from the Catherine treatment. Honestly, he looked like a burn victim. His skin was raw, red and ripped apart. And, the warts…well they were still there!

A week went by and his skin did not heal from the burns. I made an appointment to see the dermatologist once again. I wanted her to see how badly his burns were and hoped she could prescribe something to help him heal. After the examination, she asked her assistant to prescribe Mupirocin for the burns and Protopic (a non-steroid cream) for the eczema and walked out of the room. She did mention before she walked out that I was no longer allowed to bring my 4 year old daughter (who was sitting quietly on the chair in the office) to these appointments and to please get a babysitter next visit. That day I left that doctors office defeated and in tears. What did I do to my son? At that point he had over 75 warts all over his body and his beautiful baby skin was now destroyed.

That night I decided to do research. I didn’t trust the doctors anymore, so I researched all of the medicated creams that I was putting on my son. Every cream had horrific side effects. The worse side effect was from the most recent prescription, Protopic, it could eventually cause skin cancer. That cream cost me $150.00, I threw it in the garbage. I continued to research. I researched every website, every blog and every forum that was written about molluscum. I researched for the next week, every chance I could get, I must have spent 5 hours a day researching. And what I noticed was that there were many naturopathic remedies to get rid of the symptoms but nothing to get rid of the virus. Since conventional medicine did not help the problem, and only made it worse, I decided that I was going to take my son to see a Naturopathic doctor.

My sister’s very good friend recommended Dr. Nenninger. She spoke very highly of Dr. Nennigner and was so grateful that he was able to heal her son naturally, when conventional doctors told her he needed tubes in his ears. Today, her son is happy, healthy and has not had an ear infection since seeing Dr. Nenninger!

After doing some research I found out that Dr. Nenninger was a well known, well respected, extremely knowledgeable Naturopathic doctor. Maybe there was hope, maybe my son could heal! I emailed Dr. Nenninger and he personally responded to me within hours and I was given an appointment immediately. Wow! My husband, my daughter and my son all went to the visit. He was kind and friendly, and offered my children paper, crayons and corn chips while letting them play with his two adorable dogs. My kids were happy and comfortable in his presence. My son, who was now conditioned to fear doctors, didn’t fear him.

The doctor observed my son and then we went over his medical history. Dr. Nenninger explained to my husband and me that my son’s immune system was distracted and that was why his body was not fighting the molluscum virus. He suspected food allergies. He explained that skin disorders such as eczema, rashes and warts are created because the body’s immune system is too busy making antibodies to fight food proteins, when it should be creating antibodies to fight viruses and bacteria. He pricked my son’s finger, put a few drops of blood on a piece of paper and said that he would be in touch as soon as the results came it. That was the last little bit of pain my son has every felt.

Within one week the test results came in. Dr. Nenninger sat with both my husband and me, while the kids played in his office and explained that my son should avoid dairy, gluten and eggs. Apparently, his body was so busy creating antibodies to fight these food proteins, and was so distracted that it was never going to ever be able to fight the molluscum virus. I have to be honest, this was tough to hear; everything my son ate contained dairy, wheat and eggs! In fact, his favorite foods were cheese, yogurt, pasta and cereal! But, we wanted my son to heal and Dr. Nenninger promised me he would. That was the first thing he said to me, “Don’t worry mom, he will heal.” Most importantly, Dr. Nenninger promised to find out the underlying cause of the virus, not just hid, cover up, or in my son’s case, cut or burn off the symptoms!

My husband and I went home that day and threw out everything in the house that contained gluten, dairy and eggs. We drove to Whole Foods and found alternatives for everything my son enjoyed the most without the ingredients he was allergic to. We explained to him that he would have to eat new and special food to help the bumps go away. When I asked Dr. Nenninger how long it would take to see results, he told me to give it a month or two and the bumps would just fall off.

He also reminded me that it was more than just molluscum that we were healing; we were healing my son’s immune system which is far more important than the bumps which were just symptoms. I asked if there was anything else that could help to speed up the process, so he also gave my son an immune boosting supplement and Thuja for the warts. For the first time in six months we all had hope, we were actually smiling not crying and best of all we were not hurting our son, we had nothing to lose!

Within the first week of the diet, my son’s skin started to look smoother and brighter and the bumps stopped spreading. Within two weeks of the diet his eczema was gone for the first time since he was born. Within three weeks of the diet, the bumps started to fall off. Within four weeks of the diet, all 75 bumps fell off and not one has returned! My son’s skin started to heal. He still has some discoloration and some scarring from the burns and scrapping, but his soft baby skin is back. He beat the molluscum! A skin virus my son had for six months, healed within one month of avoiding the foods he was allergic to. His body is stronger and will now be able to better fight viruses and bacteria.

I am eternally grateful for Dr. Nenninger and so thankful that there are doctors out there that truly do care to find the real cause of a problem, not just cover it up or cut it off. I hope that this story will encourage parents to try alternative medicine, question conventional medicine and know that healing is possible!