Molluscum Contagiosum

1 What is Molluscum Contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection caused by the molluscum virus. It is a relatively harmless disease that spreads easily through skin-to-skin contact . Major symptoms include developing small, red-colored lesions on the skin. The disease is relatively harmless, but symptoms escalate with repeated scratching and rubbing.


2 Symptoms

Molluscum contagiosum mainly affects the skin around the genitals, inner thighs, legs, arms, and backside with the smaller-sized lesions. Sometimes, the bumps appear on the hands and  face, too. In the beginning, the bumps are not painful, but they are itchy. Frequent itching can cause them to become septic and blistering with blood, at which point it can turn painful.

Careful treatment is needed to reduce the bumps as well as the marks caused by scratching, so consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms.

3 Causes

Molluscum contagiosum can spread by coming into contact with a person who is already suffering from the disease. It can also be spread through sexual activities performed with an infected person.

The disease is mainly caused by a virus that spreads slowly and starts showing uneven bumps all over the skin, which get bigger in size and become very itchy. One has to be careful when handling the bumps, as scratching can cause an infection.

If untreated, the bumps will develop a burning sensation.

Molluscum contagiosum is highly contagious and can spread easily from person to person. If you share clothes or towels with an infected person, you are likely to get the disease without any warning.

Adults tend to develop the disease on body parts such as the genitals, groin, thighs, and stomach. Most contract it through sexual transmission.

Molluscum contagiosum can also be transmitted when a person comes into contact with an object handled by an infected person.

According to a scientific study, people involved in contact sports or who attend public swimming pools are more likely to pick up the infection.

Parents and relatives of children suffering from Molluscum are also at an increased risk, as the disease is usually passed by a close friend or relative who already has it.

Eczema, dermatitis, and dry skin often occur with a Molluscum infection.

There are many medicines available to help get rid of Molluscum contagiosum, but sometimes, the skin is affected by lingering, unsightly marks.

Consult your doctor immediately after becoming infected and start treatment, following the doctor’s instructions precisely for best results. 

4 Making a Diagnosis

Visit your doctor immediately if have symptoms of molluscum contagiosum and he may refer you to a dermatologist that specializes in skin conditions to receive a diagnosis. Bring a notebook to write down important details.

Write down the answers to these questions:

  • What symptoms are you experiencing?
  • What improves or worsens your condition?
  • What are the medications, vitamins and supplements that you are taking every day?

Your doctor will likely ask you questions such as:

  • When did you first experience the symptoms?
  • Is it occasional or consistent?
  • Have you had similar lesions in the past?
  • Do you have a relative who had lesions in the past?

Your doctor might skin scrapings from the infected area and put it under the microscope to better see the skin.

5 Treatment

There can be no treatment for molluscum contagiosum because it gets better in 6 to 12 months but the bumps may continue to develop up to 5 years. You are no longer contagious once the bumps are gone. Particularly in adults your doctor will recommend to remove the bumps before they disappear on their own because they are contagious.

Your doctor will give you anesthetic because the treatment can be painful or a combination of treatments may be used. You can apply directly on the lesions the prescription or over the counter medications.

These medicines may be:

  • topical creams,
  • prescription creams and gels containing retinoids such as tretinoin (Retin-A, Atralin), adapalene (Differin) and tazarotene (Tazorac, Avage);
  • irritating products because of their ingredient such as salicylic acid or potassium hydroxide that can help in dissolving the lesion while others may lift it off your skin contagiosum. But these medications are not allowed for pregnant women.
  • surgical procedures such as scraping and freezing (cryotherapy).
  • laser therapy.

You can be reinfected if you come in contact with someone who has an active infection.

6 Prevention

To prevent molluscum contagiosum from spreading, follow these simple rules:

  • wash your hands with soap and water,
  • avoid shaving for it may spread the virus,
  • avoid touching the bumps,
  • avoid sexual contact because you can pass it on your partner or vice versa,
  • cover the bumps by using watertight bandage so you will not be infected, uncover it after,
  • do not share your personal items such as towels, clothing and hairbrushes and do not borrow as well,
  • swimming pool precautions, experts suspect that it is because swimmers borrow things from other swimmers such as towels and equipment.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Home remedies for Molluscum contagiosum include the use of neem, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, coconut oil, oregano oil, allicin, alcohol, and duct tape occlusion.

Most of these ingredients can be found in your kitchen and have natural healing properties that help fight the infection. They also do not have any side effects and are highly powerful for treating the disease and making the skin shiny and smooth. 

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to stop the spread of molluscum contagiosum infection.

Molluscum contagiosum can be spread through contact so it is best to avoid sharing towels, bedding, clothing, or baths with people who have it.

Washing your hands is also a good idea to help stop the spread. 

9 Risks and Complications

Molluscum contagiosum is an irritating and sometimes painful infection. If left untreated, it can turn harmful, so take care of it as soon as possible.

People with a weakened immune system and children who have atopic dermatitis are most at risk of having molluscum contagiosum.

The skin and bumps around them may become inflamed and red due to an immune response to the infection.

Pinkeye or conjunctivitis may develop if the lesion appears on the eyelids.

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