Know the basics
What is molluscum contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is an infection of the top layers of the skin caused by a virus. It causes raised, red or pearl-like papules or nodules on the skin. When it affects the genital area, it is said to be a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
How common is molluscum contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is fairly common in children (more often boys) and young adults. Adults have molluscum contagiosum mostly through sexual transmission. The remaining cases are people with weak immune systems or other infectious diseases.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum?
When you are infected with molluscum contagiosum, small bumps may occur on the skin in the affected part of the body, often in the face, eyelids, underarms, and thighs (groin). Usually, bumps do not appear on the palms of hands, soles of the feet, and mouth. These bumps are about 2 to 5 millimeters wide and have a dimple in the center. Usually there is no inflammation (swelling and redness) and subsequently no redness unless you have been digging or scratching at the lesions causes the virus to spread in a line or in groups, called crops.
If molluscum appears at eyelids, bacteria may spread into the eyes and cause symptoms of pinkeye. Molluscum contagiosum will go away on their own after several weeks, but some may last for months. They do not usually leave scars.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes molluscum contagiosum?
The cause is a poxvirus (the same virus family that causes warts). The virus spreads by direct contact, touching either the infected skin of someone else or infected items such as clothes. Besides, this virus may also be transmitted through sexual contact.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for molluscum contagiosum?
More widespread molluscum contagiosis infections may occur in people with weakened immune systems and in children who have atopic dermatitis. Not having risk factors does not mean you cannot get hamstring strains. These factors are for reference only. You should consult your doctor for more details.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is molluscum contagiosum diagnosed?
The health care provider makes a preliminary diagnosis from the medical history, blood tests, and physical examination. The final diagnosis depends on finding the special hairy white blood cells in the blood. A referral will be made to a blood specialist (hematologist). A biopsy of bone marrow is performed. In this biopsy, the hematologist takes a sample of bone marrow for study with a microscope and performs additional tests on the bone marrow sample.
How is molluscum contagiosum treated?
The bumps may go away one their own, but people often have treatment to keep the virus from infecting someone else or to keep the rash from spreading to other body parts. Treatment includes removing the bumps by using lasers freezing or scraping. Sometimes these treatments may leave scars. Therefore, doctor may use alternative special medicated skin creams to help bumps go away.
Treatment may have to be repeated as new bumps appear. Also, people can get this infection more than once. Sharing contaminated hand towels or other personal items and having close contact with someone who has the infection should be avoided.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage molluscum contagiosum?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with molluscum contagiosum:
- Follow treatments as prescribed by your doctor
- Keep all follow-up appointments to monitor the progressing of symptoms and your health
- Keep the affected area clean and covered with clothing or a bandage to avoid spreading the virus.
- Do not share hand towels with another person until the bumps are gone
- Do not scratch the bumps on your skin and then touch other parts of your body. You will spread the virus this way and may get another (bacterial) infection.
- Do not use public swimming pools, saunas, and showers until the bumps are gone, to avoid passing the infection to others.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Print edition. Page 119
Molluscum contagiosum. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/molluscum-contagiosum/basics/definition/con-20026391. Accessed July 14, 2016.
Molluscum contagiosum. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000826.htm. Accessed July 14, 2016.