When applied directly to molluscum contagiosum lesions, potassium hydroxide causes cells affected by the virus to dissolve. This produces an inflammatory reaction in the affected skin, after which healing occurs.1
Potassium hydroxide 5% solution was evaluated in a clinical study involving 21 children aged 2 to 13 years with multiple molluscum contagiosum lesions present for 4 to 8 months. The solution was applied twice daily to each lesion until an inflammatory reaction was visible in all lesions.2
Time to development of inflammation or superficial ulceration was 3 to 6 days, with complete resolution of symptoms observed after 14 to 35 days. No recurrences were seen during 2 to 8 months of follow-up.2
In another open-label study, potassium hydroxide 5% solution was compared with tretinoin 0.05% cream in 50 children aged 6 months to 14 years with molluscum contagiosum. Both treatments were applied once daily at bedtime.3
After four weeks, patients responded well to both treatments, with the mean lesion count decreasing from 9.48 ±3.00 SD to 1.67 ±0.58 SD in the potassium hydroxide group (n=23) and from 8.35 ±2.82 SD to 2.00 ±1.00 SD in the tretinoin group (n=23).
Crusting and oedema were more common with potassium hydroxide; scaling and dryness were more common with tretinoin.3
- MolluDab Package Insert, October 2012.
- Jansen T et al. Akt Dermatol 2007; 33: 210–15.
- Rajouria EA et al. Kathmandu Univ Med J 2011; 36: 291–4.
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