What Is Molluscum Contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is a very common skin disease that typically occurs in children. Although this contagious disease is most common in children, it can also affect adults. It is important to recognize the symptoms quickly in order to prevent the spread to others.
What Does Molluscum Contagiosum Look Like?
Molluscum contagiosum looks like bumps on the skin that most commonly occur on the face, neck, armpits, arms, hands, genitals, abdomen, and inner thighs. These bumps look like dome-shaped growths that are flesh-colored or pink and have a dimple in the center. They often feel smooth and look waxy. Occasionally, the dimple in the center can be filled with a thick, white, cheesy looking substance. These bumps are painless but can occasionally itch.
Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus that you can catch from touching something infected with the virus or skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the virus. Since children and athletes in contact sports have a lot of direct skin-to-skin contact with others, they are the most likely to get molluscum contagiosum. Teens and adults often catch this from sexual contact. Symptoms typically occur 7 weeks after being exposed to the virus. If you have any concerns that you may have this condition, it is important to see your dermatologist right away.
What's the treatment for Molluscum Contagiosum?
Your dermatologist can often diagnose molluscum contagiosum by simply looking at it. However, if there is any doubt, a skin biopsy can be performed to give you a definitive diagnosis. Since molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus, the skin bumps, also known as mollusca, will resolve on their own over the course of a few months to 4 years without leaving a scar. Even though the symptoms will resolve on their own, treatment is often advised to prevent them from spreading to other parts of your body or to other people. If you have a condition that weakens the immune system such as AIDS, the mollusca will not go away without treatment.
If your dermatologist diagnoses you with molluscum contagiosum, it is important to discuss the treatment options available. Treatment options include freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen, scraping the bumps from the skin, laser treatment, or topical medications. It is normal to get new bumps as the treated bumps begin to resolve while undergoing treatment. It is important not to scratch, pick, or shave over the bumps to prevent the spreading of the mollusca. It is also important not to participate in sports such as wrestling, gymnastics, and swimming until cleared by your dermatologist. Make sure you do not share towels, clothing, or personal items with others. In those that are sexually active, it is important to avoid sexual intercourse until cleared by your dermatologist.
Is this condition common?
Molluscum contagiosum is a very common skin condition that will resolve without treatment. Treatment is often recommended in order to prevent the spread to other areas of the body and to other people. If you have any concerns that you or someone you know has molluscum contagiosum, make sure to see your dermatologist as soon as possible.
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