Do you teach physical education to school-aged children? Do those children often share sports equipment and gear? If so, they should be covering any visible warts on their skin each and every time they participate in your class. If this seems extreme, check out the below information about molluscum contagiosum.
What Is Molluscum Contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection characterized by mollusca, which are raised skin growths. Caused by the poxvirus, the growths resemble warts; they're usually between 2 and 5 mm in diameter and can be white, pink, or the skin-colored. Once molluscum contagiosum has been contracted, mollusca can appear anywhere on the body, and although any number of them may appear, most people develop between 10 and 20 growths. Anybody can contract this condition, but it is most common in young children.
How Contagious Is It?
Molluscum contagiosum can spread quite rapidly in school settings. The infection can be transmitted to others as soon as mollusca appear on the skin, and the infected person remains contagious for the entire duration that mollusca are present. Direct contact is not necessary to spread this infection; it can be contracted through the sharing of objects, such as sports helmets and gym mats.
Mollusca can also spread to different parts of the body. For example, a child that starts out with a mollusca on their leg and scratches it may soon find that new mollusca have sprouted up on one of their hands or arms. The mollusca heal individually, with most of them taking between 2 to 3 months to diminish. However, a person is only cured of molluscum contagiosum once every single mollusca has healed. Generally, the condition lasts between 6 and 18 months in total, but a person can be infected for a period up to 4 years in length.
New Rules Of Gym Class
If you currently don't require your students to cover their warts when participating in gym class, it's time to start doing so. While moluscum contagiosum is relatively harmless to the health of those infected, students with the condition can develop painful secondary skin infections. Most clothing provides an ample barrier to protect against an infected student spreading molluscum contagiosum, but if the mollusca can't be covered by clothing or the student's clothing is especially light-weight, then a watertight bandage should be applied over the lesions.
If a student has several wart-like growths visible on their body and covering them all up is not an option, the child should not participate in group sports activities until you can contact the parents and request that the child be seen by a dermatologist at a clinic like Dermatology Surgery Center. A dermatologist can determine if the growths are, indeed, mollusca, and he or she can discuss treatment options with the child's parents. While treatment is not necessary for most cases of molluscum contagiosum, there are treatment methods that can be implemented when the sufferer poses great risk of infecting others.
You should also be disinfecting all gym equipment and gear thoroughly after each use. Use a disinfectant that is registered by the Environmental Protection Agency to be effective against poxviruses, and follow the amount, dilution, and drying time recommended by the manufacturer of the product. If you allow your students to bring their own sports gear from home to use during gym class, make sure that they don't share their equipment with other students.
As a gym teacher, it's up to you to create the safest possible environment for your students while they're in your care. Make sure your gymnasium doesn't become a breeding ground for mollusca by implementing the infection disease control methods discussed above.