Molluscum Contagiosum

What is Molluscum Contagiosum?

Molluscum Contagiosum is an infection caused by a type of pox virus. The infection results in a benign skin disease characterized by lesions (growths) that can appear anywhere. This infection can resolve within six months to a year, but in some reported instances it can take up to four years.

What are the Symptoms of Molluscum Contagiosum?

The main symptom for Molluscum contagiosum is the appearance of the growths that can be found anywhere on the body. The growths are small, raised, and usually white, flesh-colored or pink with a pitted center. They often have a shiny appearance similar to pearl. The growths can become seriously itchy and painful.

Children with the infection are more likely to scratch excessively at the lesions, resulting in bleeding and potentially long-term scarring. A person who might have an abnormal number of lesions, may have a further underlying medical issue which could require immediate medical attention.

Molluscum Contagiosum Causes

Molluscum Contagiosum is a poxvirus and is caused by exposure to the virus, which is normally transmitted by direct person-to-person contact or prolonged contact with an item or article of clothing that has had prolonged contact with infected skin. In adults with healthy immune systems, Molluscum Contagiosum is considered as a sexually transmitted disease (STD) when the affected area is the genital region. The virus is capable of making a person contagious for up to a year’s time and care should be taken when making skin-to-skin contact with the affected areas of infected persons. While there is some evidence that the virus can be transmitted through the waters of swimming pools and saunas, most researchers believe that these instances of transmission were actually caused by inadvertent sharing of towels.

How is Molluscum Contagiosum Treated?

Treatment for Molluscum contagiosum is usually only recommended if the infection surfaces in certain places of the body such as the genital areas. Areas where the infection is visible can be treated to reduce and eliminate the appearance of the growths. The most common treatments are through topical creams and freezing through cryotherapy. A person may be prescribed medications to deal with the itching symptoms, such as a special topical ointment. Some people can resort to simple treatments such as calamine lotion to soothe any of the skin irritation.

When Molluscum contagiosum finally dissipates, the chance of it reoccurring are very rare as a person is most likely to develop an immunity to the infection.

Molluscum Contagiosum Prevention

The main way to prevent infection with Molluscum Contagiosum is to prevent the spread of the virus. This can be accomplished mostly through hygienic means, washing hands and bathing frequently as well as laundering articles of clothing and towels that may have been shared. Avoiding such sharing of items it highly recommended. Towels, clothing, and personal grooming items such as hairbrushes are the main vectors of transmission for the virus. For the adult sexually transmitted disease variety, abstaining from sexual contact is recommended as contact with the infected areas will not necessarily be covered or prevented by a condom. Sexual contact with an infected person should be refrained from until the bumps are treated and have completely subsided. If there is a possibility of incidental contact with another person, the infected individual should do their best to keep the infected area covered with a watertight bandage. However, the area should be uncovered and allowed to breathe when contact with another person is not probable.