Most often seen in children, molluscum contagiosum is a common viral infection. This virus affects the outer layer of skin and does not usually move through the body. The firm, skin-colored bumps that develop from molluscum contagiosum usually disappear within a year on their own but doctors often recommend treatment to keep the virus from spreading. Molluscum contagiosum can appear in adults and, if it involves the genitals in the adult cases, it is considered a sexually transmitted disease. People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to the virus as well.
Identifying Molluscum Contagiosum
Generally, molluscum contagiosum produces little white, pink or flesh-colored bumps that have a dimple or pit in the center. In most people, the growths range in size from about two to five millimeters in diameter. Molluscum contagiosum often appears on the face, neck, abdomen, arms, legs, or genitalia.
The molluscum contagiosum virus, a member of the poxvirus family, enters your skin through hair follicles, pores, or abrasions on the skin’s surface. Highly contagious, the virus spreads by person-to-person contact, sexual contact with an infected partner, or through contact with contaminated objects like toys, door knobs, or faucets. Scratching, rubbing and shaving the papules can spread the virus to other areas of skin.
Your doctor will need to destroy the infection-causing cores inside the papules. Once this core is destroyed, the infection will heal. Several methods can be utilized to eliminate these cores:
- Chemical agents to remove the infected skin
- Cryotherapy to freeze the areas and kill the infection
- Curette, scalpel, or other cutting device to surgically remove them
- Lasers to destroy the infected cells
You can help stop molluscum contagiosum from spreading to other people by:
- Covering the papules
- Leaving the papules alone
- Refraining from borrowing or loaning out personal items
- Avoiding sexual contact until the papules heal
- Thoroughly and frequently washing your hands with soap and water