Molluscum Contagiosum

What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a superficial skin infection caused by a virus. The virus invades the skin causing the appearance of firm, flesh-colored bumps, about 2-5mm in diameter. The bumps can occur almost anywhere on the body including the buttock, thighs and external genitalia. The bumps often remain unchanged for many months, and then may disappear on their own.

What is the cause of molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus belonging to the poxvirus family. Close physical contact is usually necessary for transmission; indirect transmission from shared towels, swimming pools, etc. may also be responsible for an infection, but this is rare. Shaving or scratching may cause the infection to spread.

Are there any complications with molluscum contagiosum?

If scratched, the bumps can become infected with bacteria.

How is the diagnosis of molluscum contagiosum made?

Dr. Abdul Hameed can usually make the diagnosis is based on the typical appearance of the bumps. No diagnostic test for this virus is available.

What is the treatment of molluscum contagiosum?

  • Avoid shaving infected areas and avoid skin to skin contact with uninfected people to prevent spreading the condition. 
  • The goal of treatment is to remove the center, after which the bump goes away.
  • curette (sharp, spoon-shaped instrument) to remove the centers which cures the individual lesion.
  • Freezing the lesion with liquid nitrogen
  • blistering the lesions off with a medicine called Cantharidin is common.
  • In mild cases creams such as topical retinoids can be used but are sometimes irritating and are not always effective.

What are the risks of treatment of molluscum contagiosum?

Most lesions heal with or without treatment. When they heal they usually have a pock mark (as evidence by the name of the virus poxvirus). Observe for signs of infection that include redness, swelling, pus-like drainage, or increased soreness at the sight.

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