About molluscum contagiosum

What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum facts

  • A viral infection of the skin causes molluscum contagiosum, a mild skin disease.
  • Risk factors include direct and indirect contact with an infected person's skin.
  • Symptoms include painless pinkish raised nodules on the skin.
  • A doctor's physical exam presumptively diagnoses most molluscum contagiosum infections; tissue biopsy offers a definitive diagnosis.
  • Molluscum contagiosum often requires no treatment as nodules resolve in about six to 12 months; however, cryotherapy (freezing), curettage (cutting out the lesions), laser therapy, or chemical treatments also may treat the nodules.
  • There are many home treatments available, but people should check with their doctor before using these treatments.
  • The prognosis of most molluscum contagiosum infections is excellent, but people with immune compromise have a more guarded prognosis.
  • There is no commercially available vaccine for molluscum contagiosum infections, but people can reduce their chances of getting the disease by avoiding direct and indirect skin contact with infected people.

What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a mild skin disease caused by a virus that causes painless small bumps on the skin. The disease occurs worldwide but is more prevalent in warm, humid climates. The disease is usually not serious and in most people resolves in about six to 12 months without treatment. It is a common infection in children; direct person-to-person contact, sexual contact, and contaminated items like clothing, towels, or other objects may transmit the infection. Some consider it to be a sexually transmitted disease (STD), but many others simply consider it to be a skin disease that is contagious by any skin-to-skin and indirect incidental contact with the infecting virus.

Is molluscum contagiosum contagious?

With part of its name being contagiosum, you can be sure it is contagious. The virus is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact and by indirect contact (for example, towels touched by an infected person may allow the virus to pass from the towel to another person's skin.

What is the incubation period for molluscum contagiosum?

The average time from exposure to symptoms (incubation period) is about two to seven weeks and may be as long as six months in some individuals.

How long does the infection with molluscum contagiosum last? When does a person become noncontagious?

The skin lesions last about six to 12 months although some individuals have had lesions last up to four years. Once the lesions spontaneously resolve, the person is not contagious.

What are the symptoms for molluscum contagiosum?

A small group of painless lesions symptom was found in the molluscum contagiosum condition

Signs and symptoms of molluscum contagiosum include Bumps on the skin that:

  • Are raised, round and flesh colored
  • Are small — typically under about 1/4 inch (smaller than 6 millimeters) in diameter
  • Characteristically have a small indentation (umbilication) or dot at the top near the center
  • Can become red and inflamed
  • May be itchy
  • Can be easily removed by scratching or rubbing, which can spread the virus to adjacent skin
  • Usually appear on the face, neck, armpits, arms and tops of the hands in children
  • May be seen on the genitals, lower abdomen and inner upper thighs in adults if the infection was sexually transmitted

When to see a doctor

If you suspect you or your child has molluscum contagiosum, consult your primary care doctor.

What are the causes for molluscum contagiosum?

The virus that causes molluscum contagiosum spreads easily through:

  • Direct skin-to-skin contact
  • Contact with contaminated objects, such as toys, towels and faucet handles
  • Sexual contact with an affected partner

Scratching or rubbing the bumps spreads the virus to nearby skin.

What are the treatments for molluscum contagiosum?

For most patients, no treatment is needed because the lesions spontaneously disappear in about six to 12 months, although for a few, it may take up to four years. Discuss any treatment method with a doctor. Cryotherapy (freezing), curettage (cutting out the lesions), and laser therapy also may remove lesions. In addition, creams that include podophyllin, salicylic acid, tretinoin (Retin A, Atralin, Renova, Avita, Altinac), and cantharidin may remove lesions. Physicians may use cimetidine (Tagamet) to treat molluscum contagiosum in small children. A new medication, imiquimod (Aldara), helps to strengthen the skin's immune response and may help to get rid of the lesions in some people. Topical desonide cream (a low-dose corticosteroid) reduces any symptoms that may accompany scratching the nodules.

Are there any home remedies for molluscum contagiosum?

There are a wide range of home remedies available for this disease. People have tried remedies such as apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, alcohol, and elderberry extract. Some are easily available at pharmacies (for example, ZymaDerm). Duct tape occlusion treatment has been suggested by some clinicians. Patients should discuss the situation their doctor before trying these remedies.

What is the prognosis of molluscum contagiosum?

Most people who get molluscum contagiosum have an excellent prognosis because the infection is usually self-limiting; it typically affects only the skin and resolves without treatment over about six to 12 months in most people. However, immunosuppressed people have a more guarded prognosis as the disease may persist for years and become widespread on the skin; some people may get secondary bacterial skin infections; the major complication of the disease. Some treatments listed above (cryotherapy, curettage, laser, and some chemical treatments) may leave small scars. Even if you get the disease and are cured, you can be reinfected and get the disease again.

What are the risk factors for molluscum contagiosum?

More widespread molluscum contagiosis infections may occur in people with weakened immune systems and in children who have atopic dermatitis.

Is there a cure/medications for molluscum contagiosum?

Most persons with a strong immune system will not require treatment for molluscum contagiosum. These pimples normally go away on their own without the need for medical attention.

A doctor can administer one of several successful molluscum contagiosum treatments. These are some examples:

  • Cryotherapy: The doctor uses liquid nitrogen to freeze each bump.
  • Curettage: small tools are used by specialists to penetrate the lump and scrape it off the skin.
  • Laser treatment: The doctor destroys each bump with a laser.
  • Topical treatment: To stimulate the peeling of the top layers of skin, the doctor applies lotions comprising acids or chemicals to the pimples. Topical treatment creams may include iodine and salicylic acid, tretinoin, cantharidin (a blistering agent often used by a doctor), and imiquimod (T cell modifier)

Some people may have pain and scars as a result of these procedures. During the procedure, anesthesia may be required.

  • Because these procedures entail treating each bump individually, a process may necessitate more than one visit.
  • If you have a lot of huge bumps, you may need to get them treated every 3 to 6 weeks till they fade away. As the present bumps heal, more ones may appear.
  • If a person with HIV contracts molluscum contagiosum, antiretroviral medication (ART) is the most effective treatment.
  • It can help to boost the immune system and combat the virus.

A small group of painless lesions

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