The Food and Drug Administration is warning against self-diagnosis and self-treatment for a common skin condition - a viral infection often called "water warts."
One mother from Tustin said they went to three different doctors before they figured out what was wrong with her son.
"It was itchy and uncomfortable, and he couldn't participate in wrestling matches," said Leanne Calvert.
She said her son's red, prickly bumps stuck around for several months until they met dermatologist Dr. Tanya Nino at Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Orange. She figured out it was molluscum.
"Molluscum can often be misdiagnosed or confused for something else, like a wart," said Nino.
The raised, swollen lesions can appear on any part of the body. Nino said molluscum is a common viral infection spread through skin-to-skin contact.
"It's very common in wrestlers. It's very common in children," she said.
It's so common that this week the FDA issued an advisory warning against using bogus treatments for molluscum.
"We don't want patients to self-diagnose, and a lot of the treatments that are advertised for molluscum may be caustic to the skin," Nino said.
"All the different creams we used didn't work. And we gave them 2 weeks or 3 weeks. We'd get new creams and wait a few weeks, and it didn't work," said Calvert.
Even if they don't cause harm, bogus creams are a waste of time and money. If a product is labeled "FDA- approved," the agency says don't believe it. The FDA has not approved any product, prescription nor over-the-counter, for the treatment of molluscum
"Molluscum is not a serious medical problem. It's treatable. It's 100% curable," Nino said.
Calvert's son is fine now, but she wishes they had seen a skin specialist sooner.
"It was disappointing for me to have my son misdiagnosed. So, I would just say, go straight to a dermatologist because their trained eye can tell exactly what the skin problem is," she said.