Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum Contagiosum Summary
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection caused by the poxvirus. Molluscum contagiosum appears as small tan or pink bumps on any part of the skin. Symptoms include a red or flushed appearance of the infected skin. Treatment may involve cryotherapy, manual extraction, surgical removal, the use of Retin-A, or the application of chemical acid.

Molluscum contagiosum facts

  • Molluscum contagiosum is a very common, contagious, benign skin disorder caused by poxvirus.
  • Molluscum contagiosum is often seen in otherwise healthy people and commonly affects children and sexually active adults.
  • It is typically found on the trunk arms, and legs and looks like scattered, small, smooth tan or pink bumps.
  • Molluscum contagiosum is easily curable in most cases and may clear on its own without treatment.
  • Multiple treatments and ongoing maintenance therapy may be necessary.
  • Molluscum contagiosum is often treated with freezing with liquid nitrogen.
  • Molluscum contagiosum may be prevented with optimal skin hygiene.

What is molluscum contagiosum? What causes molluscum contagiosum?

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Molluscum contagiosum is a common skin disorder caused by a superficial skin infection with the poxvirus. It is not caused by bacteria, yeasts, or fungi. Diet does not affect molluscum contagiosum. Molluscum contagiosum appears as multiple, scattered, small tan or pink little bumps on any part of the skin, including the neck, trunk, arms, legs, buttocks, and face. Although possible, it is extremely rare to have it all over the body in a healthy individual with a normal immune system. Molluscum contagiosum most characteristically involves just one or two body areas at a time, like the chest, back, or legs. Other common locations include the face, neck, eyelids, thighs, genitals, and buttocks. It generally spares the palms and soles.

Skin infected with molluscum contagiosum may have some dilation of the small superficial blood vessels and inflammation, thereby giving the bumps a red or flushed appearance. More males are affected than females. Most people have no other symptoms, but itching can occur. The molluscum virus does not affect internal organs or enter the bloodstream.

Molluscum contagiosum can be spread from one body part to another. As the name implies, molluscum contagiosum is very contagious and easily transmitted from person to person via skin contact or sharing razors or towels, public swimming pools, wrestling mats, shared bathtubs, or hot tubs. Molluscum contagiosum can be cosmetically displeasing, but it is otherwise medically harmless in normal individuals. Molluscum contagiosum typically resolves over a period of months without any treatment. Molluscum contagiosum is generally treated with common wart remedies like liquid nitrogen (freezing) or burning (cautery).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/15/2014

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