What is molluscum contagiosum?This viral skin infection can occur at any age, but it is most prevalent in children under the age of ten. It causes small papules (bumps) that feel firm to the touch and it usually disappears within twelve months. Although the infection does not pose a serious health risk, it is highly contagious. Children spread the virus through sharing toys, playground equipment, and personal possessions. When adults contact this infection, it can become a sexually transmitted disease if the genitals are affected.
The bumps are generally small (from two to five cm), and may be flesh-colored, pink, or white. There is usually a small depression in the center of each. It most commonly affects the neck, back, face, arms, legs, abdomen, or genital area.
Causes of molluscum contagiosumThe viral infection can enter through pores, hair follicles, or broken skin. It is easily spread through personal contact or touching contaminated objects. Rubbing or scratching the rash releases infective fluid, increasing the risk of spreading it to another area of your body or infecting another person.
Preventing molluscum contagiosumIf you or your child is infected with molluscum contagiosum, you can take steps to prevent spreading it to others. The most important is covering the papules, so that no person or object touches them. For areas that cannot be covered with clothing, a watertight bandage is recommended. It is important to refrain from scratching, picking at, or otherwise unnecessarily touching the affected area.
Thorough hand washing and avoidance of sharing personal objects are important if you are infected with molluscum contagiosum, to avoid spreading it. These steps are also important if you are not infected, but exposed to someone who is.
Treatment for molluscum contagiosum at Dr. W DermatologyTo clear up the infection, the papule cores will need to be destroyed, allowing the skin to heal. This may be accomplished in a number of ways:
- Laser therapy can destroy the infection.
- The papules may be surgically removed, using a scalpel, curette, or other technique.
- Cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen) treatment can kill the infected cells.
- Chemical formulas may be used to remove infection.