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  Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is characterized as small, harmless outgrowths in the skin caused by a virus. It resembles a pimple but with a waxy, pinkish look and a tiny pit at the center of the lesion. Molluscum contagiosum are contagious and they spread by direct physical, skin-to-skin contact. They tend to extensively spread much more in the skin that already has eczema or in those individuals with weakened immune systems. Nevertheless, in healthy individuals each molluscum lesion may still persists for at least 6 to 8 weeks. As the lesions continuously spread, new lesions appear over time, hence; the average duration of the condition is about 8 months, with some cases even lasting up to 5 years. In severe cases, particularly when the lesions become infected, scarring may occur.

Molluscum contagiosum Skin diseases
Molluscum contagiosum


Molluscum contagiosum occurs most often in children and if found in adults, the direct contact was most probably through sexual transmission. In a healthy individual with a competent immune system, the molluscum will eventually go away once the body becomes immune to them.

Signs of molluscum contagiosum may refer to those signs observable by the doctor such as: skin lesions appearing as painless wart-like bumps on the genitals, lower aspect of the abdomen, buttocks, or inner thighs; itching and irritated lesions.

Lesions of molluscum contagiosum are sometimes described further as flesh-colored, around 1 to 5 millimeter-diameter papule, shaped like a dome with pearly white and dimpled center. Generally, they are not painful, but they may itch or become irritated. Scarring may ensue once the bumps are frequently picked or scratched that may lead to further infection. At around 10% of the molluscum contagiosum cases, eczema develops surrounding the primary lesions.

In majority of cases, the lesions are asymptomatic except if complicated by secondary bacterial infections due to the reasons stated above. The virus actually resides within the central waxy core and in the process called, auto-inoculation, the virus tend to spread to adjacent neighboring skin surface. Children are the ones most particularly vulnerable to auto-inoculation, hence; they may have widespread eruptions of clusters of lesions

The diagnosis is made on the basis of the lesions’ typical clinical picture sometimes described as hemispherical, smooth, umbilicated, pearly skin lesions. However, in immunocompromised patients, the lesions may be larger, more extensive and atypical in appearance. Nevertheless, the molluscum inclusion bodies may be identified by microscopic examination of the stained crushed central core of the typical lesion.

There is no single effective treatment for molluscum contagiosum. Medications known as blistering agents (e.g. cantharone or TCA acid) or liquid nitrogen are employed to destroy each molluscum lesions. Others may choose to surgically scrape off the bumps using an instrument called a curette.

While the existing molluscum lesions are continuously being destroyed, new lesions may still appear. These new outgrowths should be treated as soon as they become large enough to be visible. There is no need for you to worry on scarring because only a tiny scar may remain as the lesions heal. Removal of the lesions are usually curative but even if some recur, either you manage it with the same way or may be left in place without causing any problems at all in most cases.

Another treatment option is the use of irritating drugs which are applied only to those tiny bumps to speed resolution. These keratolytic or irritating drugs include salicylic acid, Retin-A, Aldara cream and Condylox solution. Occasionally, griseofulvin, a systemic oral antifungal drug is used to finally clear up molluscum for reasons that are not known.

Since molluscum is considered to be contagious, physical activity should be limited to avoid transmission of the viral infection to others. Once diagnosed with this skin condition, you may opt not to undergo any treatment because the molluscum lesions do eventually clear on their own in time.

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