Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Molloscum Contagiosum

This is turning into a medical blog.  Not exactly the direction I'd hoped to take, but outside of school, the doctor's office is becoming one of our most visited places.  At least this experience involves a new (specialized) doctor.

First, a little background.  Last fall Spencer started having a red, irritated eye.  He said it didn't bother him too badly.  I figured it was just allergies, since he has them seasonally.  When he went in for his contacts eye appointment, the opthalmologist found a little growth right on the edge of his eyelid.  I can't remember what he called it, but he described it as a viral growth similar to a wart and looked something like this (only on the upper eye lid:

 He said it was probably shedding virus into Spencer's eye, causing mucus secretions that lead to a bacterial infection.  He treated the infection with antibiotics and a steroid cream and it went away.  He cautioned us to keep an eye on it (no pun intended!) and let him know if it came back in the next few months.

Well, come back it did, so we were referred to an oculoplastic surgeon who told us that, yes, it was probably a virus or it could be cancer.  What?!  The biggest thing in our favor (not cancer) was that he had no swollen lymph nodes.  He gave us a prescription for an anti-viral eye cream and asked us to come back in a week.  If it was virus, it would heal up noticeably in a couple of days and the growth would go away.  (By way of caution, anti-viral eye ointments do not come cheap even with insurance.  The first indication was that we could only find one pharmacy in all of Provo who carried it and they only did because this particular doctor was upstairs and had started prescribing it.  Good thing vision in our children is so highly valued in our family!)

The first two days Spencer's eye was more red and swollen than before.  It settled down a bit, but never looked better than before the medicine.  Not good considering "cancer" was floating out there as an option.  Not to mention the tube of liquid gold antiviral ointment that we now owned. 

We went back the next week.  The doctor took one look and said, "Yes!  This is what I was hoping for!"  (I momentarily pictured us treating him to a Hawaiian vacation this summer!)  Turns out the real viral culprit had finally manifested itself.  (Yea for no cancer!) The growth had developed two pustules.  That meant the doctor was now 99.9% sure it was a virus called Molloscum contagiosum  and it does not respond to liquid gold anti-viral ointment.  It responds to surgical removal instead.  Awesome!  Basically, the virus is extremely common and is a big cause of skin rashes in day cares and wrestlers as it's spread by contact with people or things.  It runs around causing a general infection somewhere in your body until your immune system corrals it and creates pustules.  It's not usually a big concern unless it leads to a secondary bacterial infection.  It usually goes away on it's own after several months or can be treated with a different ointment, or can be removed surgically which usually ends the infection.  We don't know how or where Spencer picked it up, but the usual ointment can't be used in eyes and without surgery he'd have 10 or 20 pustules on his eyelid within the week.


Spencer was thrilled to have outpatient surgery scheduled for that afternoon as it meant he got to miss his World Civ test.  Greg and I dropped the rest of the day and headed to the surgical center with him.  The actual procedure took less than 10 minutes but required general anesthesia.  We were there a couple of hours from check-in to check-out.  It could definitely have been worse.



He did really well- never got remotely sick to his stomach or even needed a Tylenol for pain.  He got to wear the lovely ice pack for a day and then was left with what looked like a little eyeliner on one side of one eye lid courtesy of stitches.

Other than not being able to wear his contacts this week, needing to put a different ointment in his eye, and wearing an eye patch at night it's been no big deal.  His stitches came out today and the contacts went back in.  You can hardly even see where the scar is.  

One more visit in 6 weeks and it will be a done deal.  And that is that.