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Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a common type of skin condition caused due to viral infection and generally tends to affect children. It leads to the formation of painless papules or bumps which most often vanish within a year on their own. In case of an injury to the papules or scratching, the infection may affect the adjacent skin.

Adults are also affected by molluscum contagiosum, though it is rare. Adults with venereal diseases may have their genitals affected by the condition or individuals with compromised immune system may also get infected by the viral condition.

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Molluscum contagiosum is contagious and can spread through contaminated materials or through contact with an infected person. Hence, it is recommended that immediate treatment is sought for the condition.

Symptoms of molluscum contagiosum

Some of the signs and symptoms of molluscum contagiosum are discussed below:

  • Molluscum contagiosum results in the development of elevated and circular flesh-colored papules or bumps on the surface of the skin.
  • Such bumps have a characteristic dot or indentation at the top
  • The papules are not that big and approximately measure about two to five mm or a quarter if an inch in diameter
  • One can remove them with ease by scratching or rubbing vigorously. However, such activities assist in spreading the infection to the surrounding skin.
  • The papules are typically formed on the neck, face, hands, armpits and arms in children. On the other hand, molluscum contagiosum may be a form of sexually transmitted disease in adults and generally tends to affect the genitals, buttocks, inner part of the upper thighs and lower abdomen.
  • Sometimes, as an adverse action of the immune system, the bumps as well as the adjacent skin may become inflamed or red and result in a condition called molluscum dermatitis.
  • The condition is different from genital warts and there are no serious health problems that are caused due to molluscum contagiosum. However, individuals affected by the condition should check for the presence of STDs
  • In certain cases, the lesions tend to become itchy and if scratched can result in secondary infections. Also, molluscum contagiosum of the eyelids can lead to the development of complications such as conjunctivitis

Molluscum contagiosum virus and causes

The causes and risk factors of molluscum contagiosum are mentioned below:

  • It is caused due to an infection by a member of the poxvirus family known as the Molluscum Contagiosum Virus (MCV).

The spread of the virus takes places in a number of ways such as:

  • Any form of sexual intimacy with an affected person
  • Skin to skin contact that is direct
  • Indirect spread of the virus through contact with contaminated things such as doorknobs, toys, tables and faucet handles.
  • Shaving or the ribbing and scratching of the lesions can result in the spreading of the virus to the nearby areas.

Individuals with a weakened immune system are at a greater risk to develop extreme forms of lesions due to infection by the molluscum contagiosum virus.

Due to the contagious nature of molluscum contagiosum, individuals whose work requires them to travel or meet numerous people are at greater risk to come into contact with infected individuals and thereby contacting the condition.

Molluscum contagiosum treatment

  • In individuals who have a normal immune system, the skin condition resolves on its own and tends to disappear within six months to a year without any treatment. There are times, though when it can take a few years for molluscum contagiosum to vanish completely.
  • Individuals who have altered immune system or children with incompletely developed immune systems may take longer than a year to get rid of the skin condition.

Molluscum contagiosum spreads rapidly from one person to another via direct and indirect contact. Hence doctors recommend that infected people should seek treatment for the condition.

Molluscum contagiosum can be treated through the following methods:

  • Cryotherapy or freezing wherein the lesions are subjected to extremely low temperatures through various means
  • Curettage or Scraping off the papules with medical equipments
  • The destruction of papules with the help of laser therapy

These treatments methods can result in a lot of discomfort and distress and hence topical anesthetics are prescribed to alleviate the pain before such procedures are carried out.

  • Topical drugs that are used to eliminate warts and to treat psoriasis and acne can also be used to remove the bumps. Doctors generally tend to use a combination of the surgical methods and topical medications to treat molluscum contagiosum
  • Individuals affected by molluscum contagiosum and who have weakened immune systems due to the presence of various immune system disorders must consult a doctor for relevant treatment methods for the skin condition.
  • Individuals who are affected by dermatitis around the papules and experience itching may treat it by using hydrocortisone ointments or creams that are available over the counter or by using prescription topical steroids. It is essential that such topical medications are applied only on the areas affected by dermatitis and not on the molluscum contagiosum lesions.
  • Individuals affected by molluscum contagiosum need to undertake several precautionary measures such as washing their hands and maintaining good personal hygiene, covering the papules, avoiding sexual or skin to skin contact with other people, not rubbing or scratching the papules and not sharing personal items with others, to prevent the spread of the virus.

Molluscum contagiosum pictures

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