Molloscum contagiosum is a viral infection of the skin. It is caused by a virus that is a member of the poxvirus family. The molloscum virus is spread through skin-to-skin contact. In children, the areas most commonly affected are the face, neck, arms, and hands. In adults, this infection is considered a sexually transmitted disease, and the genitals and surrounding skin are the areas most commonly affected.
Skin lesions are the primary symptom of molloscum contagiosum. Molloscum contagiosum skin lesions usually have the following characteristics: small, dome-shaped bumps with dimpling in center; painless, but may be itchy or tender; at first appear pearly or flesh-colored and later may turn gray and drain ; white or waxy substance in center of lesion; usually multiple lesions in groups; face, trunk, arms, and legs are common sites in children; genitals, abdomen, and inner thigh are common sites in adults ; can last from several weeks to several years
Contact with the molloscum virus causes this skin infection. Skin lesions occur two weeks to two months after infection.
Diagnosis of molloscum contagiosum is usually made based on the appearance of the lesions. Sometimes a biopsy will be taken to look at under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.
Left untreated this disease usually resolves within six months. In untreated HIV infected patients, the lesions usually persist and spread indefinitely. Treatment options include surgical removal, chemical treatment, and cryotherapy.
This disease is contagious.
- Avoid contact with an infected person; this includes sharing towels, clothing, baths, and pools
- Avoid sexual contact with an infected person
Complications of Molluscum contagiosum can include secondary bacterial infection from scratching (impetigo) Conjunctivitis when eyelid is infected. Disseminated secondary eczema; this represents an immunological reaction or 'id' to the virus.
A risk factor is something that increases your chances of getting a disease or condition. Having skin-to-skin contact with an infected person is the primary risk factor for contracting molloscum contagiosum. Other risk factors include:
- Indirect contact with an infected person through a swimming pool or bath or by sharing towels or clothing
- Sexual contact with an infected person
Weakened immune system (e.g., HIV/AIDS) increases risk for getting disease, and causes more severe symptoms